Plenty of musicians have day jobs as they attempt to establish themselves as artists, but Mike Medved is unique in being able to say that he was honing his tunes while playing professional basketball. In England.
When he was a kid, both music and sports played a role for Medved, an Elizabeth native who went to St. Vincent College. But at 6'7", he found that one skill seemed more viable for paying the bills.
"I loved them both the same, but in different ways," he says. "But it was more practical to be a basketball player."
After two years playing for Leeds Carnegie in Division 1 of the English Basketball League (and teaching on the side), Medved decided to return home, in part to be closer to his parents. Now he's teaching high school and pursuing his music, which he'd played in England with a band called Mike Medved and the Redcoats.
Medved's tunes are characterized by smooth vocals and a laid-back singer-songwriter vibe — fans of the John Mayer school of pretty, poppy, personal music are likely to fall in love with him. In his songwriting, he mines everything from relationships to his unique situation as an athlete (see "Muscles and Skin").
This weekend, he and his Pittsburgh band release their first album, recorded live at Club Café. The decision to record that way was partly pragmatic, partly principled.
"Releasing a well-produced four-song EP just wouldn't be us," Medved says. It was more appealing to record a full live set, trim it down to an eight-track full-length, and embrace the genuine imperfection of a live record.
With the new album, Medved hopes to take advantage of the momentum he's gained here since moving back, and get his Pittsburgh band on the same kind of roll the Redcoats were on in Leeds.
"[The Redcoats and I] played a couple of showcases for Communion, which is the label started by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons. We were working our way through the ranks, as you do in any place. But I felt like it was time — I had to either decide to stay and never come back, or come back home."