The Pittsburgh Pirates hope you'll root for the home team -- and homegrown music | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Pittsburgh Pirates hope you'll root for the home team -- and homegrown music

For a musician, there aren't many things more exciting than hearing your song on the radio for the first time. But having your song played at a major sporting event might come close.

With this month's introduction of the Local Music Inning Break, the Pittsburgh Pirates are making that dream a reality for area bands. A song by a Pittsburgh artist is played during the sixth-inning break (around the time you're trying to catch one of those free T-shirts), while the name of the band and the song are displayed on the Jumbotron.

A similar promotion was attempted in the '90s but was difficult to execute, says Eric Wolff, the Pirates' director of in-game presentations.

"Only a few bands had CDs, so there were a lot of logistical problems," says Wolff. The idea was shelved until Wolff saw Get Hip artists The Aviation Blondes at last summer's Three Rivers Arts Festival. "I was blown away by how good they were. I figured, 'This band is as good as, if not better than, these national acts we play at the ballpark.'"

Earlier this month, the Aviation Blondes became the first local act to grace the Pirates new program. Though their breezy power-pop sound goes well with peanuts and Cracker Jack, guitarist Steve Morrison suspects that "the name of the song -- 'Catch and Release' -- helped us get the spot." 

Wolff hand-picks all the songs played in the park; a recent game included songs by The Jackson 5, Aerosmith and the Black Eyed Peas. "Hopefully if a family comes to the game, we'll play at least one song the parents like, the kids like and grandma and grandpa like," he says.

The Local Music Inning Break is a Pittsburgh exclusive, as far as Wolff knows. While he admits that he has to keep with a "mainstream-ish" sound, he's willing to consider any interested bands.

To Lovebettie vocalist Alexandra Naples, the cross-promotion makes perfect sense. "Pittsburgh is such a supportive city when they believe in you," she says. "I mean, does anyone love their sports teams as much as we do?" Lovebettie's bluesy modern rock -- which will be featured during the May 20 game -- has earned attention from both ends of the local radio dial, WYEP and WXDX. 

At the suggestion that this is a bit like hearing your song on the radio, but with 30,000 people in the car with you, Naples laughs. "Exactly," she says. "It's such a cool thing, being played for all those people when everyone is pumped up for the game. You're right there while everyone is listening to your song."

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