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Friday, October 31, 2014

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:58 AM

  • Photo Courtesy of Rachael Katsur

Pittsburgh artist Palermo Stone released a short six-minute documentary chronicling his journey to the A3C Festival in Atlanta, an annual five-day hip hop festival that features music, art, film, style, and education. Stone remarked that he was honored to represent the city of Pittsburgh and the music scene here at a national level. The video sheds some light on what it’s like to go at a festival as an indie artist and gives viewers access to behind-the-scenes action. You can watch the video below and listen to a track from Palermo Stone from our MP3 Monday. Due in part to his performance at A3C, Palermo Stone will be playing a show with Ty Dolla $ign in Pittsburgh on Thu., Nov. 4 at Altar Bar.

Check him out online.

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Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 10:56 AM

  • Photo courtesy of JUCO

David Bazan and the Passenger String Quartet will be performing at Club Café on November 2nd. Bazan, the figure behind critically acclaimed indie band Pedro the Lion, released 2014’s Songs for Level Ground as a powerful follow-up to the well-respected Curse Your Branches and Strange Negotiations. Now he's teamed up with the Passenger String Quartet, pairing his personal and deep lyrics with the well-respected string group composed of two violins, a viola and a cello. You can expect an honest and intimate performance from Bazan, whose own vulnerability has shaped his musical career. Adding a string quartet to his wounded songs might even be a little overwhelming for some.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 3:05 PM

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is looking for youths in grades 6-12 for its annual competition linked to First Night. Danielle Fox has more in Program Notes.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Pittsburgh’s youngest songbirds should start warming up their vocal cords.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust seeks student singers for its fifth annual Sing-Off Competition. The winner will perform live at the Benedum Center during Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2015, an all ages, alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration highlighting the city’s arts. The winner will also receive two $500 cash prizes for themselves and their school’s music department.

The competition welcomes individual students and student groups of 20 members or fewer from grades 6 through 12. The students must be affiliated with a middle or high school in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Last year’s winner was Savannah Wiggins, from Penn Hills High School.

Contestants should submit a video performance of two songs, one of which must be a Motown classic to coincide with Motown the Musical 's tour stop here, Dec. 30 to Jan. 4. The students should upload the performance videos, which must be less than 10 minutes long, on YouTube, then submit it on the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2015 website.

An internal panel will review the performances, and narrow things down to five contestants, from among whom a guest judge will select a winner.

The video and application deadline is midnight on Fri., Nov. 21.

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Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 8:44 AM

The National Aviary hosts Eagles at the Front, a day-long bus tour to observe the annual fall migration of golden eagles.

The site is the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch, located east of Pittsburgh on a hill high above the Bedford Valley (near Center City, in Bedford County). The tour is led by National Aviary ornithologist Bob Mulvihill, who will discuss the migration habits of eagles and hawks and more.

Other raptors you might see include northern harriers, red-shouldered hawks, peregrine falcons, Cooper’s Hawks, sharp-shinned hawks and merlins. The site alone is spectacular, with panoramic views for miles.

The chartered bus leaves the Aviary at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday and returns about 5:30 p.m. The tour is all-ages, and a boxed lunch, snacks and water are included in the price (but bring your own folding lawn chairs or blankets).

Tickets are $65 for adults, $55 for children 12 and under.

Some of the ticket price benefits the Aviary itself, and part of it is donated to the Allegheny Plateau Audobon Society, which maintains the Hawk Watch site. The tour's rain date is Nov. 8.

Register at 412-258-9463 or email

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 2:28 PM

In case you haven't been over on our music blog, FFW>>, today, just a note that we've got not one but TWO brand-new videos from local musicians we've featured in the paper before: rapper Ray Dawn dropped a new song from his forthcoming Crucifix Powerbomb album this morning, and this afternoon, a scary new one from indie rockers 1,2,3, whose double-LP Big Weather came out last spring. Enjoy!


Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 2:14 PM

More Pittsburgh video action today: We just got this brand-new spooky video for a creepy new song from local creepy creepers 1,2,3. Just in time for Halloween, the song is "Darkly Through the Valley"; enjoy, and while you're at it, read our feature on the band from earlier this year, when they released the epic (and awesome) two-LP album Big Weather.

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Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 11:10 AM

It's been a minute since we last got something new from Pittsburgh rapper (and onetime CP cover boy) Ray Dawn, but he's been working quietly: He's prepping for the release of a new album, Crucifix Powerbomb, produced by Jahlil Beats, the Philly-native producer who's signed to Jay-Z's label and has produced for some of the biggest names in the game.

Today, he released a video for the first track off the project — it's called "Glorious"; watch here:


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Monday, October 27, 2014

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 5:27 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Dan Macharola

Hey all, this week's MP3 Monday track is brought to you four-piece punk band Remainders — they just released a split with Barons, but this is an exclusive premiere off their forthcoming debut EP, Fine Exits. Below, stream or download the lead track, "You'll Make Some Fine Exits." Enjoy!

Remainders: You'll Make Some Fine Exits

[Download link expired. Sorry!]

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 4:33 PM

When you have the chance to see a truly iconic band play live, there’s a lot of wiggle room, enjoyment-wise. If the performance is great, it’s an unmatched thrill. If it's so-so, just seeing the band members in person can cover a multitude of sins. Even if the show is downright SAD — well — who doesn't love an opportunity to deliver a smug "they suck live"?

In the case of Judas Priest, the needle to the Rock-O-Meter hovered closest to the thrilling side.

After we got through the opening act, that is.

The genius of a band like Steel Panther is that they establish full deniability from the get-go. Do you think their songs are boring —if, admittedly, well executed — rip-offs? Duh, they’re supposed to be! Do you find their lyrics to be vilely misogynistic? Chill out, they’re just making fun of OTHER bands with sexist lyrics. As someone with a sense of humor and a soft spot for bands like Motley Crue and Ratt, I’ve devoted a generous amount of time to "giving Steel Panther a chance," but it comes down to this: if you’re going to make me listen to lines like, “Smells like sushi” in a song called “Asian Hooker,” the joke had better have more than one note. It's not easy to successfully lampoon a genre that is ridiculous enough on its own, and with a little more nuance and a little more heart, Steel Panther could be pretty great. But as my +1 observed, “you don’t get the impression that these guys AREN’T actually like this.”

On the other hand, it takes a band like Steel Panther to make a band like Judas Priest look subtle. Though Halford’s voice sounds great on their new record, I couldn’t help but brace myself for those first few high notes (particularly on the Broadway-worthy “Victim of Changes”). He did not disappoint. Kicking things off with Redeemer of Souls album opener, “Dragonaut,” Halford wore his famous leather and chains, but soon switched to an ever-changing series of shiny, lightweight smoking jackets. This seemed sensible, considering his recent recovery from a back injury which, as he told The Guardian, may have had something to do with taking the stage, night after night, “wearing literally 30 pounds of leather and steel spikes.”

The set was pretty evenly split between old hits (“Love Bites” and “Devil’s Child” were particularly fun) and new songs, which are generally good enough to sound at home amongst the classics. New guitarist, 34 year old Richie Faulkner, looked and sounded like he'd been a part of the band from birth. For “Hell Bent For Leather,” Halford came out on a motorcycle — a move that was winking as much as it was badass: Halford is nothing if not self-aware and good-humored. I must, however, take issue with the video projections that dominated the first half of the show, most of which looked like they were lifted directly from glitchy, old Xbox games. Fellas, you've been a band for almost 40 years. Surely you must have the resources to enlist someone with hipper (or at least less confusing) design sense?

The set was the perfect length — satisfying, but short enough that the crowd was still energetic for the encore of “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin,'” “Living After Midnight” and “Defenders of the Faith.” The audience wasn’t particularly rowdy, but many seemed to grow bolder during those last couple songs, attempting to cross barriers and move into closer, undesignated seating areas. The guards couldn’t have been too surprised. What else would you expect from fans of “Breaking the Law”?

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