When the youthful DIY/punk ideal collides with the middle-aged family idyll, you get acoustic folk-punk -- at least, that's the conclusion reached by the frontmen of '90s bands like Hot Water Music and Avail. It's similar for singer/guitarist Doug Weaver of locals The Frantic Heart of It, whose sound alludes to folk-punkers on the Plan-It-X label (Defiance Ohio, This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb), plus an occasional glockenspiel.
Weaver drummed for agit-punkers Gunspiking for several years, then started acoustic duo City Hands with Zach Furness of Voice in the Wire. When Furness moved to Chicago (he's now a cultural studies prof at Columbia College), Weaver decided to resurrect the material rather than scrap it. "I tried to write songs from the point of view of a man with a career, a wife and two kids, trying to reconcile that with ideals I'd had my whole life."
A Pittsburgh firefighter, Weaver was blindsided last March when he was diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia. His prognosis is good, but between treatments and band-member concerns (several moves, a house purchase, a divorce), it took a while for the Frantic Heart's debut CD to be released. It's coming out this Sat., Nov. 21, at Gooski's, with Playoff Beard and Furness' new band, Everything Is Ruined. All proceeds go to BRICKS, founded by Charissa Hamilton-Gribenas (wife of late sound-artist Rick Gribenas) to connect young adults with cancer to life-saving resources. You can also hear The Frantic Heart of It live on WRCT 88.3 FM, at 8 p.m. Thu., Nov. 19.
Another benefit, held at the Lava Lounge at 9 p.m. Wed. Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving Eve), supports the evicted Brew House tenants in their battle to regain art/living spaces on the South Side. The brainchild of Rick Bach, this show features rockabilly greasers The Bessemers, Bach's country-punkers Hellbelly, and two bands fronted by artist Bob Ziller: the dark country-ish Bingo Quixote and punkers Media Circus Extravaganza (with two members of Submachine).
Ziller has been unusually busy as of late -- opening a bookshop on Penn Avenue and starting the Pittsburgh Beautification Project to revitalize abandoned buildings. He's also launched a new label, Mon Records, releasing a Bingo/Media double CD package and the Ghost Healers! EP, a Steeler-themed collection written by the irrepressible Andrew Laswell (Andrew the Impaler, of Circus Apocalypse). "The songs are in the vein of Tom Lehrer and Weird Al," Ziller explains, "really funny, slice-of-life Pittsburgh."
The label's next release is for singer-songwriter Gary Musisko, and info will be gradually revealed at www.monrecords.com.