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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 2:29 PM

They used to be called sponsorships; now they're ambassadorships. Regardless, the point is: If you're a local band, this is your chance to open up an Iron City Embassy and bank serious ca$h.

Iron City Sound is a contest to find the Next Big Iron City Ambassador. The current crop is a respectable bunch: 1,2,3, DJ Bonics, Kellee Maize, Bear Cub and Dream Job. Iron City is looking for one more, and you can apply online now. Once the applications are complete, public voting will begin (at the end of April). The winner will receive $5,000; duties, according to the contest website, include:

Brand Representation
Brand Consumption
Brand Integration on Social Networks
Web Promotion
Public Music Performances
Promotional Appearances

That's right. "Brand consumption." I think you know what that means. Get on it.

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Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 12:01 AM

Greetings!

A couple months ago, I told you all about The Long Time Darlings. This week, we're premiering the band's brand-new video, for the song "Downtown Sugar." It's directed by Chris Lockerman, who's done a number of other local music vids. When last we talked with frontman Brett Staggs, he said his dream was for "things to get out of hand." In this delightfully ridiculous video, they seemingly have.

The Long Time Darlings play this Saturday, Feb. 18, at Club Cafe; it's the late show (10:30) and Molehill and Casino Bulldogs (who are releasing a record) play as well. Without further ado:

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 2:39 PM

One of the quirky things about Americans, especially those on the right of the political spectrum, is this: While we live in fear of government oppression, we accept the tyranny of our employers with a shrug.

When a Pennsylvania school district, mindful of the childhood obesity epidemic, suggested that it might be better for parents not to send cookies in school lunches, Sarah Palin was on hand to decry the war on cookies. But when employers begin punishing workers for being too fat, by contrast, the news is met with a shrug.

That's one reason there's so much to say about the Obama administration requiring church-affiliated employers -- like parochial schools or Catholic-run hospitals -- to offer employees health insurance that covers birth-control. The debate has put conservatives in an awkward position: telling you that in order for you to be free, you have to be bullied by your employer.

Take Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ruth Ann Dailey, who wrote about the issue this week. Like many conservative critics, Dailey asserts that -- although the Obama policy exempted churches themselves -- applying the rules to parochial schools and other church-related workplaces is an "assault on their constitutional rights."

Nor is Dailey (or the Catholic bishops) appeased by the concession Obama made last week: While employee insurance must still cover birth control if workers want it, the church would be exempted from any need to advise them of the benefit. Insurers would have to notify clients directly. The church's only obligation would be to look the other way ... a skill which Catholic bishops have spent considerable time honing in recent years.

Dailey calls the policy shift mere "window dressing" since "the cost [of insurance] will be passed back to the employers." And that, it seems, infringes not just on their freedoms ... but your own:

Apparently one of the things government ought to do "on your behalf" is force your employer to provide you with contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. Left-wingers want the government out of your bedroom -- unless it's standing there with a handful of "free" pills.

This is the crux of the argument as Dailey, and many others, have formulated it. And it's based on a bit of sleight-of-hand. The first sentence is about the compulsion government is placing on your employer. In the second sentence, however, Dailey treats the policy as if it's a burden placed on everyone.

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Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Playwright Attilio Favorini intended the University of Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre production of The Gammage Project to address racial injustice in Pittsburgh by dramatizing a single wrenching episode from recent history.

But a prominent local actor who quit the show a week before it opened claims that the play merely exploits the story of Jonny Gammage, the black motorist killed in 1995 during a routine traffic stop involving five suburban-Pittsburgh police officers.

Wali Jamal says he quit the production because the play fails to tell Gammage's story in an edifying way, and because Favorini, who is white, is not the appropriate person to tell it.

"It's not [Favorini's] place to present these things," Jamal tells City Paper. He says he believes the play could incite further police hostility toward African Americans: "I've had my face slammed into a car before, by a cop who was probably having a bad day."

Jamal first made his feelings clear in a lengthy Feb. 13 Facebook post, where he wrote, "To me it was this elderly white man [Favorini] telling black jokes, to black people, USING A BLACK MAN TO DO IT, and EXPLOITING THIS YOUNG BLACK MAN'S [Gammage's] TRAGIC DEATH TO SELL TICKETS to a show strictly designed to PISS PEOPLE OFF."

Reached Monday by phone, Favorini declined to comment on Jamal's departure from the show. But he expressed surprise at the reasons the actor gave for quitting.

Favorini says he and Jamal "never discussed" any objections to the script (though Favorini does recall explaining the purpose of one monologue Jamal says he objected to).

"Any indication I had from [Jamal] was that he was extremely enthusiastic about playing the role," says Favorini, a veteran playwright and head of Pitt's graduate theater program.

As to whether he, as a white man, is the appropriate person to write about Gammage, Favorini argues, "The story is not just a black story. The story is a story of justice and injustice," racial tension and, in the community outcry over Gammage, racial solidarity.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Locals Slices, who basically land in the "Local Tweets" feature every time I put it in the paper, are getting ready to release Still Cruising, the long-awaited follow-up to Cruising. Today, they have some songs posted on Brooklyn Vegan, in a weird format wherein tracks 1,2, 4 and 5 are together, then track 3 is below them. And in fact they've already garnered some haters in the comments section — who may or may not in fact be the members of Slices. Whatever, listen to them now and prepare yourself for Iron Lung Records' release of Still Cruising next month.

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Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Happy Monday everyone! Two weeks ago, we introduced you to Pet Clinic. This past Friday they released their EP The Dust That Made the Fire That Made the Light. Our MP3 this week is the first track from the EP "Stop Wasting My Precious Time." Stream or download it below!

Sorry, download link expired!

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Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Energetic pop rock was in abundance at Altar Bar this past Sunday as Cassadee Pope's solo tour came to town. Pope, the lead singer of Hey Monday, shared the stage with Pittsburgh's own Call To Attraction, the female-led quartet Darling Parade and the incredibly charismatic Stephen Jerzak. The evening had an intimate setting as all of the bands interacted with the audience frequently while also delivering animated performances.

Call To Attraction kicked off the show with a set of hard-hitting pop jams, relying heavily on catchy guitar rhythms and the impressive vocal range of lead singer Ryan Wood to create a party-like atmosphere. "Caught Me Dreaming" showcased Wood's upper range and drummer Dylan Wood's consistency, as the tempo changed multiple times. The four-piece act livened up the dark and hazy Altar Bar to prepare the audience for more even contagious pop cadences.

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As Darling Parade prepared to take the stage, a soft techno beat echoed throughout the room. The light sound silenced the room just as the band broke into a heavy guitar and bass line. The abrupt change in music made for a striking contrast that enraptured the crowd. Lead singer Kristin Kearns entered the stage shouting, "Let's go people," and immediately the band's camaraderie could be noticed, as bassist Nate McCoy and guitarist Adam Hatfield smiled at Kearns between choruses.

Darling Parade
  • Darling Parade

Darling Parade gave off a gritty vibe, which was a nice transition from Call To Attraction's cleaner sound. Their songs had a more mysterious, entrancing vibe, such as "Remember," which the band created with Anberlin frontman Stephen Christian. The band, who had not played in Pittsburgh before, commanded the stage with a few unexpected synthesized beats and Kearns' infallible belting, making it clear that they know how a good pop rock song is to be structured. McCoy ripped into his guitar solos like he had a personal vendetta against his strings, and drummer Casey Conrad assailed his cymbals like he was attempting to break down the Wall of Jericho. At the end of the alt-rock frenzy, Kearns called out to the audience, "Take our music home with you!"

As Darling Parade packed up their gear, a throng of girls lining the front of the stage screamed out of joy repeatedly as they watched Stephen Jerzak ready himself for his acoustic set. The crooner enjoyed the attention yelling, "Pittsburgh, let me hear you," as he postitioned his hands on his guitar.

Stephen Jerzak
  • Stephen Jerzak

Jerzak's quirky personality made songs like "King" and "Party Girl" entertaining while his excellent picking skills made them flawless. He exhibited his versatility by covering Jason Derulo's "It Girl," which he dedicated to his girlfriend. His vocals' shining moment came during "Small Town Celebrity," a fast-paced tune that allowed Jerzak to show off his stamina due to its long-winded lines of lyrics. He performed with an aggressive approach and charming nature.

After Jerzak's performance, Cassadee Pope quickly took the stage with a guitarist, violinist and a bongo player accompanying her. Pope, who played guitar for most of her set, performed a variety of Hey Monday songs, her own songs and a cover of Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn." The songstress conversed with audience members between songs, discussing her connection to Pittsburgh, the story behind the success of Hey Monday's first single "Homecoming," and the inspiration behind a few songs, like "I Don't Wanna Dance," which she wrote simply because she was tired of hearing so many popular songs about dancing.

Cassadee Pope
  • Cassadee Pope

Pope connected with her audience the most at the end of her set when she asked for requests. She admitted that she might not remember all of the chords or lyrics for a few songs, like "Fall Into Me," during which she corrected herself several times, but the crowd did not seem to care about the minor mistakes. They applauded loudly afterwards, to which Pope replied, "You guys are too nice. That was horrible."

While belting the choruses of songs like "Candles," Pope captured the audience's attention with her range and vocal strength. She proved herself as a solo artist by sharing her new material while also listening to the requests of the many Hey Monday fans in attendance.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 5:59 PM

As Pennsylvanians know, when it comes to to gay marriage, Republicans are often the ones standing in the way. But as Washington state prepares for its governor to sign a gay marriage bill into law on Monday, one Republican representative deserves some credit: Rep. Maureen Walsh.

Walsh, one of two Republicans who voted for the bill, stood on the house floor and gave an emotional, but honest, speech about her thoughts on supporting the bill. It’s since gone viral.

Among the highlights, Walsh talked about the death of her husband six years ago, and what she learned from that relationship:

"I don't miss the sex. You know? To me that’s kind of what this boils down to ... I mean I certainly miss it. But it is certainly not the aspect of that relationship that incredible bond I had with that human being that I really, really genuinely wish I still had. So I just I think to myself, 'How could I deny anyone the right to have that incredible bond with another individual in life?' To me it seems almost cruel."

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Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Thought this was amusing. By now, you've heard about how proposed legislative redistricting, prompted by the 2010 Census, would move legislative districts from Pittsburgh to the east? The courts have tossed out a Republican-crafted redistricting map already ... but for a brief period today, state Democrats moved one of our legislators, state Rep. Dom Costa, from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

In a press release headlined, "Costa disappointed with Marcellus plan," the House Democratic Communications Office told us of Costa's concerns about HB 1950, a measure highly favorable to the gas-drilling industry. (More about which anon, we hope.) Here's how the release began:

HARRISBURG, Feb. 10 – State Rep. Dom Costa, D-Phila., said he voted against a plan that fails to adequately address the issues that face the Marcellus Shale drilling industry.

C'mon, Harrisburg: "D-Phila"? It hurts that you're seeking to take away some of our legislative districts. And it's even worse that you've passed a bill stripping local municipalities of the right to regulate many aspects of drilling. As Costa says, HB 1950 "takes away local government officials' power to regulate what is right for municipalities." But don't try to take away the local government officials themselves!

Members of the Costa family are one of Western Pennsylvania's most important natural resources! (And unlike natural gas, they are renewable!) Hell, Costas are one of the few things we still manufacture around here.

Happily, this crisis in representation appears to have been averted: A short time ago, the House Democratic press office sent out a corrected version of the release:

State Rep. Dom Costa, D-Allegheny., said he voted against a plan that fails to adequately address the issues that face the Marcellus Shale drilling industry.

That's more like it. It may be true, as Costa says in his release, that "Many of the jobs in [the gas-drilling] industry are filled with workers from out of state." But once we start exporting Costas, all is lost.

Now if we can just figure out what is happening to House Districts 22 and 45 ...

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Kimya Dawson
  • Kimya Dawson

Info on a few of the Warhol's spring Sound Series shows has been trickling out for the past few weeks, but a pretty comprehensive schedule is now available. Things I'm most stoked on: the return of Bear In Heaven, Damien Jurado, my chance to finally see Sharon Van Etten despite having liked her stuff for years, and Jenn Wasner's new solo project, Flock of Dimes, opening for Sharon. What are YOU stoked on?

The schedule (all shows at the Warhol unless otherwise noted):

Feb. 25 — JACK Quartet
March 22 — Kimya Dawson with Your Heart Breaks
March 28 — Bear In Heaven
April 6 — The Psychedelic Furs (at Carnegie Lecture Hall, Oakland)
April 28 — Sharon Van Etten with Flock of Dimes (at Carnegie Lecture Hall, Oakland)
May 1 — Oberhofer
May 17 — Damien Jurado with JBM

More info at the Warhol's website.

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