Though few would call Pittsburgh a hot-bed of mainstream country music, you don’t have to drive far to find a diner with Froggy on the radio, or a bar with an aspiring Blake Shelton on stage. Joe Wodarek, who fronts local country band The Stickers, argues that the city and the genre are better matched than one might expect: “Someone asked me why I love country music,” he says. “And my answer was … you can sing about God, your country and your family and no one is going to judge you for it.” Which, Wodarek says, makes it akin to Pittsburgh and its unpretentious Rust Belt roots.
The Stickers — made up of Wodarek and his brothers, drummer Jim and bassist John — are devoted to their hometown (they grew up in Brookline and all still reside in the South Hills). But these days they’re getting plenty of love elsewhere.
The band’s single “Countrified” — an almost infuriatingly catchy set of instructions on how to achieve a full country makeover (“Put some y’all in your talk / put some twang in your rock”) — has been getting radio play across the country, and is currently primed to break the top 40 on the country charts. “We’re looking at what we’re competing with and it’s Zac Brown and Sam Hunt and all these guys that we’ve listened to for years,” Wodarek says. “We’re jockeying trying to get the next spot up on one another, which is a lot of fun to see happen.”
This follows some major exposure in January, when “Countrified” was used as a theme for the NHL All-Star Weekend, in Nashville, and appeared all over the NHL Network and NBC. In February it was played during the Daytona 500, and on April 13, the song will be featured on the ABC show Nashville. “It’s humbling as heck,” Wodarek says.
But The Stickers won’t be relocating to Music City any time soon. “We have the professionals do what they do down there,” Wodarek explains. “We try to stay up here and keep our lives as even-keeled as they can be.” For The Stickers, their locale makes their music what it is. “There’s an honesty about Pittsburgh,” Wodarek says. “I think that shows in our music … it’s a real open book.”
For more information, visit www.thestickers.com