The first annual Deutschtown Music Festival is this Saturday, and will showcase more than 40 local bands of various genres, at eight North Side venues, indoor and outdoor, starting at 2 p.m.
"It's not a complicated combination: cheap beer and free music," says festival organizer Ben Soltesz. He estimates that mixture will draw some 800 to 1,000 attendees. Soltesz and partner Cody Walters hope that the festival raises awareness of the budding music scene in the neighborhood and encourages people to consider the North Side as a viable place to see live music.
Why Deutschtown? There's live music almost every night, though it's sometimes under the radar. The Elks Club hosts the Pittsburgh Banjo Club each Wednesday, while Park House has bluegrass, and James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy offers live jazz and blues bands several nights a week. However, most Pittsburghers don't take advantage of these opportunities — and when turnout is less than ideal, venues can't host shows regularly.
Some of the participating festival venues are not regular music venues, and that's part of what will make the festival feel so neighborly. Son of Stedeford's is a record shop, Artists Image Resource is a print-making facility, Peanutz is a bar and restaurant, and Max's Allegheny Tavern will loan out its ratskeller (more or less German for basement) for the event. To make things even sweeter, all of the festival venues are within five blocks of one another, which gives bands breathing roon, but doesn't make attendees walk too far between venues.
In addition to the North Side charm, the lineup is killer. "It's one day for so many local bands that should be getting attention outside of Pittsburgh to get attention," says Soltesz. Those playing include Bastard Bearded Irishmen, The Harlan Twins, Meeting of Important People, Mega Def and Chrome Baby Jesus. (In the interest of full disclosure, CP music editor Andy Mulkerin's band, Neighbours, is playing one of the shows as well.)
Admission is free; daytime activities are fit for families, and the night performances are suited for adult tastes. Food trucks will be on site and drink tickets are available for purchase.