On Sat., July 12, the Deutschtown Music Festival will celebrate its second annual gathering on the North Side. More than 70 acts are scheduled to play a total of 16 different stages spread throughout historic Deutschtown, from Max's Rathskeller to Wigle Whiskey's Barrel House and the North Side Elks Lodge. Outdoor stages will also be set up at Middle and Foreland streets and Allegheny Commons East. Festival organizer Cody Walters expects nearly 6,000 people. (Last year's inaugural event had an estimated attendance of 2,500, according to Walters.)
With so many people expected, Deutschtown and its small venues may seem an unexpected locale for hosting such an event — one that might easily be overtaxed.
"Part of that problem will be taken care of by the outdoor stages," Walters says, "and if it does get a bit crowded in one of the clubs or bars, so be it: Everyone that attended last year was really respectful of each other, and I expect the same this year." Furthermore, for Walters and the residents of Deutschtown, it seems the perfect spot.
"Neighborhoods like Deutschtown are the ones I seek out when I travel," says Walters. "It has good music [at venues like] the Park House and the Pittsburgh Banjo Club [at the Elks Lodge], good beer, good food [and] old, historic buildings — Deutschtown has style."
The Deutschtown Music Festival is actually the culmination of four annual bar crawls organized by Walters to showcase North Side bars. After the second year, which more than doubled the attendance of the first, Walters began thinking about how to expand the event to accommodate the popularity. The attendees of the Deutschtown Bar Crawl, which takes place in November, had already been pestering Walters about a spring event, and live music seemed the most natural progression.
"Music brings people here that otherwise wouldn't come to the North Side, which has a reputation of being dangerous," Walters notes. "But if they lived here, they would realize that it isn't dangerous. The North Side is just misunderstood — I want the festival to change that general perception."
Volunteers are still needed for the event; organizers can be contacted through the festival's Facebook page, listed below.