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Friday, June 29, 2012

Killer of Sheep 7-inch release shows this weekend

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Killer of Sheep
  • Killer of Sheep

Last year we told you a little bit about hardcore outfit Killer of Sheep, which comprises some old-school punk notables (and hip-hop beatmakers).

Tonight, Killer of Sheep holds the first of two release shows for its 7-inch, "Out of Time." (Technically, the record was out before, but in such a limited run that it was re-pressed with the help of Innervenus and Lock and Key, two local labels.)

The all-ages release show is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Mr. Roboto Project on Penn Ave. in the Bloomfield-Garfield area. Heartless, Sistered, Hounds of Hate and Purge open.

The 21-and-over release show happens tomorrow night (Sat., June 30) at Gooski's in Polish Hill; Joining the bill is legendary D.C. hardcore band Iron Cross, and locals The Traditionals, Ratface and Cultivator.

The shows are, punk-style, $5 apiece. Get ready to rage.

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Savoir Adore hits Mr. Small's 6/30

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

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Brookyln indie-pop duo Savoir Adore will be coming through Pittsburgh with an appearance at Mr. Small’s Theater in Millvale on Saturday June 30th, as part of its current United States tour. The band recently released the Dreamers EP, made up of the title track as well as remixes from Database, Body Language, French Horn Rebellion, and more. The album, a preview of the Our Nature full-length, has lauded the band critical praise from NME, NPR, and the New York Post, which named Savoir Adore as one of its “10 Bands To Watch”. Check out the band below and if it piques your interest, don’t miss Savoir Adore at Mr. Small’s this Saturday.

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Most Bloomfield Bridge revelers found guilty of lesser charges

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Seven of nine defendants ranging in age from 24 to 45 who were arrested May 4 after police interrupted a late-night party beneath the Bloomfield Bridge had most of the criminal charges against them dropped Thursday afternoon during a preliminary hearing.

Dropped charges included felony offenses for rioting and misdemeanor offenses for failing to disperse. They were instead each found guilty of a summary offense of disorderly conduct for being at the park after 11 p.m. and given a $300 fine that cannot be repaid through community service.

Among the seven who received the light sentences was Lauren Jurysta, 24, of Pittsburgh, who faced a felony charge of second-degree aggravated assault. Police said she flicked a cigarette at Pittsburgh Police Sgt. Charles Henderson after calling him an "asshole" and "fascist pig."

Her arrest, police said, was the first after officers responded to a 911 complaint about a large, disorderly party under the bridge. A live band was set up and about police estimated that 100 people were at the park without a permit. Members of the party became upset and demanded to know why Jurysta was being arrested. The resulting confrontations led to the other eight arrests, according to the testimony by police officers and their supervisors Thursday.

Two of the nine defendants plead not guilty, and will go to trial.

Jason Oddo, 26, of Irwin, plead not guilty to a felony charge of third-degree aggravated assault (downgraded by the judge from a second-degree aggravated assault charge) and four misdemeanor charges: disorderly conduct, obstructing administration of law or other government, resisting arrest and possessing instruments of crime. A third-degree felony charge of rioting was dismissed.

Police said Oddo used pepper spray against a police officer who was pursuing him after Oddo ran from him to avoid arrest.

Kathleen Tierney, 29, of Braddock, also plead not guilty and will go to trial on misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. Police said she punctured a tire on a police vehicle as she left the party.

Elise Delong, the attorney representing Jurysta, said the results of the hearing "were probably fair all around."

"They were in violation of the law," she said. "Automatically, all of them were wrong because they were in a park after 11 p.m."

The party and the arrests came a day after police reported vandalism to the nearby Sciullo Field, which serves as a memorial to Pittsburgh Police Officer Paul Sciullo, who was killed along with two other police officers in 2009, after a standoff in Stanton Heights.

Graffiti was found and vandals attempted to remove a memorial badge from the park's sign, according to news reports at the time.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shadow Lounge celebrates its 12th birthday this Friday

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 1:38 PM

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East Liberty’s Shadow Lounge will be celebrating its 12-year anniversary this Friday, June 29th. During its tenure, the Shadow Lounge has gone from hosting "glorified house parties" to a contender in the local venue game. Bands have come from all over the world to play the Shadow Lounge over its 12-year span, and the celebration this year will include Brooklyn-based producer Krts.

Better known as Kurtis Hairston, Krts has made waves in the club scene. His beats, while rooted in 80’s and 90’s hip-hop, have included a wide span of influences: indie rock, dubstep, and anything in between. Krts will be helping the Shadow Lounge kick off what is guaranteed to be quite the birthday party.

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The event is this Friday, June 29th, and starts at 9 p.m., with Krts spinning from 10 to 2 a.m. Admission is $5 for the 21-and-up occasion. For more information, check out www.shadowlounge.net.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

EDMC to employees: No layoffs, but no raises either

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Employees who survived layoffs the past several months at for-profit educator Education Management Corporation got some mixed news this week: The Pittsburgh-based company hopes to avoid further layoffs ... but is freezing wages in order to do so.

Word of the wage freeze came down Tuesday, in an email sent on behalf of EDMC management. The email, sent to City Paper from multiple sources, says the management committee "made the decision to suspend merit pay increases for fiscal year 2013" which starts July 1 of this year and ends June 30, 2013. (Employees will still have annual employee evaluations.)

The wage freeze, the email says, is happening "only after carefully reviewing and implementing a number of other measures to ensure that we are operating as efficiently as possible." The email says the company "understands the news is disappointing to us all," but hopes "most will understand that it is necessary in order to preserve the long-term strength and health of our company."

EDMC's health has been beset by numerous problems. Enrollment has lagged, and the company is fighting a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit over the company's student recruiting practices. If EDMC loses the case, it might have to repay billions of dollars in federal financial aid given to its students. EDMC is also contending with legislation being pushing by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, to limit the amount that for-profit educators can earn from veterans via the G.I. Bill.

Such problems seem to be taking a toll. Despite a stock buyback and hundreds of layoffs in January and after, EDMC's stock has fallen from $30 at the beginning of the year, to around $6.50 as of this morning.

"An important part of maintaining this commitment in the current economic environment is ensuring that the cost of education for our students remains manageable," the email reads. "In order to accomplish that goal, we're working to keep tuition as close to current levels as possible.

"In the past year we have also taken a number of steps to eliminate as much expense as possible across the company ... to minimize actions that further reduce our employee base. We will continue those efforts in the coming fiscal year."

While it appears the wage freeze will be system-wide, the e-mail did not indicate whether top executives and board members -- many of whom are tied to Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs -- will be sharing the pain. (Last year CEO Todd Nelson, for example, received a base salary of $630,000 and stock-option bonuses worth $11.5 million.) The company will report details of its executive compensation in its annual report, due at the end of August.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Donora Performs At WYEP's Summer Music Festival, Begin Friends Forever Tour

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Prepared for an evening of fun with performances from several reputable alternative and indie rockers, thousands of people covered the Schenley Plaza in Oakland with their picnic blankets, lawn chairs, and coolers last Friday.

"The Summer Music Festival is WYEP's way of saying thanks to our listeners by inviting them to a free outdoor show featuring some of their favorite bands," host of the festival and WYEP’s weekday morning show, Cindy Howes, told me. "WYEP is a member-funded radio station that relies on donations from our listeners, so this event is our way of showing appreciation to our supporters. It's also a nice way of getting our community together in a great part of the city."

That it did. WYEP’s 15th Annual Summer Music Festival was a family affair, attended by a diverse group of people of all ages. As the first act to perform and sole local band on the night’s bill, Donora attracted a large crowd early in the evening.

"We at WYEP have been repeatedly impressed with all aspects of this band; the energy during live shows, songwriting, production and general presentation," Howes says. "We knew they would do a great job kicking off the day with a fun set of their high-energy music and great attitudes!"

The sun shined bright as Donora took their act to the stage. Appeasing to summer skies, lead singer and guitarist Casey Hanner dressed fashionably in light gray brimmed sunglasses, a light orange-salmon colored short-sleeve button-up shirt, and light green pants that matched the swoosh on her Nike shoes. The band’s set opened with “The Untouchables,” a song from their late-2011 album release Boyfriends, Girlfriends.

"Their latest CD has really resonated with our audience, they’ve been growing their audience locally and regionally for the past few years, and they are superb live," says Kyle Smith, Director of Content and Programming with WYEP. "They are definitely a band that has the talent to break outside of the local band scene."

Donora’s showcase at WYEP’s Summer Music Festival preceded their Friends Forever Tour that the band has since embarked on. As they put the finishing touches on an EP that they predict will release this fall, they'll be performing several songs from the new release while on tour. The tour started in Boston and will end in Columbus, with a return date to Pittsburgh mid-tour at the Brillobox on June 29. Donora is joined on the road by Rostrum Records label-mates TeamMate.

"It will be a fun tour because we're all friends and I think we have a lot of fan crossover potential," says Hanner. "Both bands love to see crowds dancing and having fun."

Surely Hanner and her Donora band-mates were thrilled as youthful audience members stepped to the front of the stage to dance and sing-a-long during their set at WYEP's Summer Music Festival. The sole local band on the bill, Donora attracted a large crowd early in the evening.

"We owe a lot of our Pittsburgh success to WYEP. They've been supporting us since our first self-titled album," explains Hanner. "We've played a number of events for them and have gotten the chance to play with some really great national acts because of that."

At WYEP’s Summer Music Festival, Donora’s performance preceded three national acts – Great Lake Swimmers, Sharon Van Etten, and Dr. Dog, who had sold out Mr. Small’s Theater in February.

"This year was easily our largest and most successful Summer Music festival to date," says Smith, who’s been working with the festival for 13 years. "The crowd for the day and evening was estimated at over 10,000 attendees by the staff and security at Schenley Plaza. The ideal summer weather helped, along with the excellent line up and performances."

"I circled the park to check out the crowd," adds Howes, this being her fifth year working the festival. "The number of people that were on the plaza was overwhelming. The amount of people and also the diversity of the crowd was a great sight to observe. It looked like all ages and all walks of life were in attendance."

(For photos, head over to WYEP's Flickr page.)

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Monday, June 25, 2012

MP3 Monday: Kid Durango

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 1:45 PM

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Today's MP3 Monday comes from local pop-punk act Kid Durango. Check out "Golgitha" below.

[Download link expired, sorry!]

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Cave Canem Poetry at City of Asylum

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 12:05 PM

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Terrance Hayes is a pretty good poet. Arguably, he's Pittsburgh's most prominent poet right now. In 2010, the National Book Foundation thought enough of him to hand him the National Book Award for poetry.

But the quality of Cave Canem's annual visit to City of Asylum last night was such that Hayes took the opening slot on a four-poet program and it didn't feel like a case of undue hometown deference to visiting artists. 

In fact, departing the big standing-room-only tent City of Asylum had set up on a closed-off North Side street, I couldn't recall a night of poetry hereabouts in quite a while that was both stronger and more lively.

And I haven't even mentioned the surprise, evening-ending appearance by the venerable Nikki Giovanni. 

Cave Canem was founded in 1996 by poets Cornelius Eady and Toi Derricotte to nurture African-American poets. Eady and Derricotte (who teaches at Pitt) have grown their baby into a major cultural force. They've got 344 national fellows. One faculty member is just-named U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway.

The reading, which drew some 300 people to Monterey Street, was part of the group's annual multi-day series of workshops and events in the Pittsburgh area.

The audience was filled with Cave Canem students and faculty, and the readers (all faculty themselves) felt free to do a mix of classic, new and even in-progress work. 

Hayes led off with a stunning set of mostly new and unpublished poems, including one that in part describes his attempts to learn piano: "I was trying to play the 12-bar blues with two bars … I was tyring to play the sound of applause by trying to play the sounds of rain." He also read the provocative (and provocatively titled, after a parlor game) "Kill, Fuck or Marry" and a poem ostensibly about wigs whose wordplay was almost too dense to follow (and too rapidly spooled off to take notes on). 

Acclaimed poet and novelist Angela Jackson followed. Her work, including an excerpt from a long piece about an enslaved forebear, was potently lyrical; a signature piece titled "The Smoke Queen," a breathless assertion of existentially indomitable blackness, brought the crowd to its feet. And her raunchily comic, folk-myth-imbued comic poem "The Man with the White Liver" had people all but rolling in the aisles, perhaps not least because Jackson at first seems so grandmotherly.

The young poet who introduced Thomas Sayers Ellis described him as "Albert Einstein and Richard Pryor." Though he didn't talk much astrophysics, the intensely cerebral but quite entertaining Ellis (pictured) lived up to the billing. When reading much of his work, he's got  a unique, stylized manner, percussively emphasizing the rhythm. Ellis is experimental but also endlessly quotable. Some of his work's about being a black poet in a white-dominated culture: "I no longer write white writing, but white writing won't stop writing me." He read of women on the street who "clutch their purses because they want you to think you've stolen something," while in the art world, "they clutch their purses because they know you know they've stolen something."

One more: "Love is when people like the same food and like the same toys. War is when people dress up like salads and eat each other." He also performed ("read" is too tame) excerpts from a promising longer poem he wrote after Michael Jackson's death.

The offical program closed with another National Book Award-winner, Nikki Finney. She began with a calmly furious poem about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina whose key images include a government helicopter making "observational" manuevers over a flooded city full of starving, dehydrated people but doing nothing to help them. She also read a wonderfully strange and affecting poem about her mother feeding her fish as an infant, and finished with a harrowing in-progress piece about a U.S. soldier who was raped and murdered on a base in Iraq.

Things wrapped up with Giovanni, a pioneer in the 1960s of the black-arts movement who now teaches at Virginia Tech. She read a couple pieces, including an hilarious brag with lines like "I am so hip, even my errors are correct."

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PNC Bank HQ protested by aggrieved homeowner

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Tears streamed down Alejandra Cruz's face as she stared at a letter from PNC Bank. Standing outside of the bank's Downtown headquarters, she shook her head.

The bank, she said, would not renegotiate the mortgage on her family's Minneapolis home which was foreclosed.

"This is hard," she said.

Cruz, 26, and her brother David, 20, traveled to Pittsburgh today to meet with the bank and ask them to help the family get back into their home. The Cruzes say an online banking glitch on PNC's end caused them to miss an automatic monthly mortgage payment. After the payment was missed, they say, the bank assessed nearly an additional month's mortgage in fees, which the family could not pay. During the foreclosure process, a third-party nonprofit in Minneapolis got involved to help, but did not deliver the proper paperwork to the bank nor communicate with the family. The Cruzes subsequently lost their home to Freddie Mac, who now owns the property.

Since then, the Cruzes have been supported by Occupy Homes Minnesota, and a fierce battle has been underway for the home at 404 Cedar Ave. Signs of that struggle traveled to Pittsburgh today, including the broken door of the home that sheriff's deputies kicked in during a raid at 4 a.m. May 25.

"My family has never asked for anything for free," Alejandra said, noting her family has lived in the home for seven years. "We can pay the mortgage."

In addition to the action in Pittsburgh, actions were planned in Minneapolis and New York in conjunction with the Occupy movement. About 30 people gathered in Market Square this afternoon for the rally, many with Occupy Pittsburgh, before the group marched to PNC's headquarters on Fifth Avenue, chanting phrases like "Whose house? Cruz house!"

"In seven years, they have not missed a payment. That's what's so outrageous about this," says Marina Antic, with Occupy Pittsburgh, who led today's march. "PNC prides itself on being a community bank in Pittsburgh. It's time for them to live up to that promise."

We've contacted PNC and will post their response when we hear back. In the meantime, the Cruzes were headed back to Minneapolis this afternoon to determine their next move, said Anthony Newby, with Occupy Homes Minnesota and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, and who accompanied the Cruzes in the PNC meeting.

Newby said the family's plans were unclear, but that they were in temporary housing and were optimistic they could get back into their home.

"We're not giving up. This is more than the just the Cruz family," said Newby. "This is a fight for the future of housing in our country."

Newby said the Cruz's situation was just a symptom of greater ills, particularlyg banks doing business with third-party nonprofits who often do more damage than good.

"PNC never got the documents [from the nonprofit] but PNC says this is not unusual," Cruz said. "We asked, 'Why are you doing business with people who will lead families onto a path of losing their home?' ... We didn't get an answer."

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mala: Extended Interview

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Mark Lawrence, a.k.a. Mala
  • Mark Lawrence, a.k.a. Mala

Our conversation with Mala was so compelling we thought you'd like to read more. He'll be performing tonight at the Lawrenceville Moose; it's a rare Pittsburgh performance for the London legend.

So you just came back from Cuba where you were working on a project for Gilles Peterson. Can you tell me a little bit about that came about?

It was kind of random really. It was in December and it was the end of 2010. And Gilles Peterson asked if I’d be interested in a project that he’s working on. You know, do you want to meet up and discuss it so. It was really like I just met him. I was doing something for Red Bull at the time. They were doing their academy in London. And we just met up over a pint of Guinness. And he asked, "Do you want to come to Cuba with me? I’ve been working on a project with Havana Cultura, which is this project that’s kind of in place really, to kind of promote contemporary Cuban music."

So without really knowing what I was going into I kind of took the opportunity. As I said in a recent interview for FACT Magazine, over the years of music, I’ve been offered lots of different work opportunities, in terms of production and other sorts of things. But I always have do something that feels right and this felt like a genuine opportunity to do something. I just jumped at the chance, really.

What was it like working with musicians of such a different culture from your own?

Overwhelming.

I don’t see myself as a musician. I don’t play an instrument. I don’t understand music theory. If you would tell me to hum the note C, I couldn’t do it. I make music and I’ve always made music, just on pure instinct and by pure feeling. And I guess technology allows us to do that today more so because you can edit things.

What exactly was the concept for the album?

We didn’t actually come up with the concept of what we were going to do until the morning when we were having breakfast. Roberto Fonseca, he’s a phenomenal musician, one of those guys who, when you tell people in Cuba, "I’m here working with Roberto Fonsesco," they kind of look at you different.

[The concept] ended up becoming the musicians playing traditional Cuban rhythms at the tempo that I like to make music. Just watching these guys play, I thought to myself, "I don’t know how I’m going to … "

I know I can strip it down and do it my style. That wasn’t really what the issue was. The issue was, how could I capture this magic, which I see created in front of me. Obviously they were traditional rhythms and Roberto would play keys, melodies and stuff over the top while there was a conga player, a drummer and a guy on a contra bass.

But yeah, it was just overwhelming. It was kind of like a little bit frightening to me because I’ve got to take this home and I’ve got to do something which I hope they can respect and appreciate as well. You’ve got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, ya know?

You can only do what you do at the end of the day, because, I’m not Cuban and I’m not a musician like that. I didn’t want to make a Cuban album as such because that wouldn’t be me. nd that’s where I say it really is South London meeting Havana because I went there with what I know and they gave me what they know. And somehow I managed to make a selection of tracks that I’m happy to share with people.

Once you had gone to Cuba and you had experienced the culture, did you go back home and start listening to classic Cuban music or reading more about the culture?

From when I was there, I got all the musicians, some of those were rappers, some of those would play the trumpet. So those people would give me pointers into other music that they liked that was Cuban. I would check out the stuff on that tip. But again, I kind of like going into something totally not knowing because in that way, there’s something you pick up about its natural essence. It’s all-good to be educated in a field. Sometimes that education can bring limitation. So for me, it was just about trying to translate my experience of being in Cuba with the people.

I know you’re a father now; has that change of pace, or even the very existence of your son changed the way you think about music?

It’s funny because he loves some of the tracks from the Cuban record. Almost like he has to play them everyday. I’ve got loads of video of him playing this one particular track. And he just goes crazy. He really likes the congas

I would play him stuff that was more acoustic rather than stuff that was electronic. So he’s very much into roots sounding music. And if I were to put on hip hop, he’s doesn’t really vibe to it. But he really likes weird alien sounds. When I would take him into the studio he would jam on the Moog. If I just load up a normal organ sound he’s not really that interested.

But then from a very young age, his mom’s friend bought him a little toy piano and he used to always crawl over to it and play it. For his first birthday, rather than buying him loads of toys I thought I’d buy him a piano which is something that he enjoys very much.

I actually asked him the other day if he would like to learn to play the piano and he said yeah. So, we were trying to a teacher who could sit down with a 2-year-old and just show him the basics in an entertaining way.

But it’s definitely not something I’m into forcing him to do; it’s something that he’s interested in. He’s just around music, he’s around art and creative things as well so I think he’s just naturally into that. I think all kids are to be honest.

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