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pittsburgh, pa
Chad VanGaalen with Special Guest Un Blonde

"Everyone was like, 'What the F? You're going to change your name to Banana Bread?!'"
Many of us are already making arrangements to relocate to Chad VanGaalen's universe. The world as we know it seems to be disintegrating by the minute, so any hint of a means of escape has serious currency. Over the last ten to fifteen years, CVG has been producing living maps in songs, drawings, modified instruments, animations and performances--shifting forms pointing to another world, infinitely more liveable, maybe hidden just under the surface of our own. But until now, the access point has been fairly unknown.
When I first visited Chad's home in Calgary, Alberta, years ago, he was working on plans to build a giant grinning monster head on his roof, which could be seen from the windows of a children's hospital on the hill overlooking. I also recall two young men at a show near the Banff Center for the Arts, calling him out on stage for an art piece he had made there years before: a literal piece of shit in a hot dog bun. This led to Chad and band improvising a new composition on the spot, with the chorus, "Shit In A Hot Dog Bun, Yeah."
Now, a father of two, the spooky-voiced multi-instrumentalist has several hundred releases to his name(s)*, has produced adventurous records and videos for some of the best bands of our time, is working on a feature-length animated science fiction film with companion book, and plays in two bands with his kids (the improvised hardcore punk duo, Crocodile Teeth & The Snugglers, and the live techno band, Banana Bread). At one point, Chad and his daughters conspired to replace the name, "Chad VanGaalen" with "Banana Bread," as his main performing identity.
CVG's blood flows by unrestrained creative impulses. He has never worked in a commercial recording studio. By his hands alone, one line, sound, shape or word leads organically to the next. In 2011, he wanted to score a science fiction film, so he started making one. The first episode of his animated feature, Translated Log of Inhabitants, should be released this year, with a fully illustrated D&D-esque compendium of 150 associated characters.
"It's like Bob and Doug McKenzie in space."
Shrink Dust, his fifth full-length album under his own name, is partially a score to this film, but it's also-in Chad's view-a country record.
Always a fan of esoteric instruments, Chad recently acquired an aluminum pedal steel guitar, and began trying to figure out how to play it: "It took me a month to set it up, and a year to be comfortable recording myself playing this thing." His experiments with this instrument unify the album, along with themes of death, transformation, fear, benign evil, and the eccentricity of love. A newfound affection for The Flying Burrito Brothers, and the sci-fi mysticism of the 1980s graphic novel The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius, were also significant in recent years.
Somehow, with all of its disparate influences and components, Shrink Dust might be one of the most accessible moments in CVG's creative life, simply because it is more apparent than ever how much fun he is having blurring the lines between the vivid worlds of his creation, and the world his audience inhabits. For those who are open to it, Chad's adventures in music and art illuminate a path that is more colorful, playful, and sustainable than those commonly available to us. A path that is, most importantly, always changeable.
You can see and hear his alternate reality through the artifacts he offers up. But as it turns out, the only true access point into Chad VanGaalen's expanding universe is one's own will to create.
Find Chad: He's a monster.
*Gem Clouds, Garbage Island, Black Mold, Dub Tassels, Raw Operator, Inventions of Science
- Bryan Webb

"Everyone was like, 'What the F? You're going to change your name to Banana Bread?!'"
Many of us are already making arrangements to relocate to Chad VanGaalen's universe. The world as we know it seems to be disintegrating by the minute, so any hint of a means of escape has serious currency. Over the last ten to fifteen years, CVG has been producing living maps in songs, drawings, modified instruments, animations and performances--shifting forms pointing to another world, infinitely more liveable, maybe hidden just under the surface of our own. But until now, the access point has been fairly unknown.
When I first visited Chad's home in Calgary, Alberta, years ago, he was working on plans to build a giant grinning monster head on his roof, which could be seen from the windows of a children's hospital on the hill overlooking. I also recall two young men at a show near the Banff Center for the Arts, calling him out on stage for an art piece he had made there years before: a literal piece of shit in a hot dog bun. This led to Chad and band improvising a new composition on the spot, with the chorus, "Shit In A Hot Dog Bun, Yeah."
Now, a father of two, the spooky-voiced multi-instrumentalist has several hundred releases to his name(s)*, has produced adventurous records and videos for some of the best bands of our time, is working on a feature-length animated science fiction film with companion book, and plays in two bands with his kids (the improvised hardcore punk duo, Crocodile Teeth & The Snugglers, and the live techno band, Banana Bread). At one point, Chad and his daughters conspired to replace the name, "Chad VanGaalen" with "Banana Bread," as his main performing identity.
CVG's blood flows by unrestrained creative impulses. He has never worked in a commercial recording studio. By his hands alone, one line, sound, shape or word leads organically to the next. In 2011, he wanted to score a science fiction film, so he started making one. The first episode of his animated feature, Translated Log of Inhabitants, should be released this year, with a fully illustrated D&D-esque compendium of 150 associated characters.
"It's like Bob and Doug McKenzie in space."
Shrink Dust, his fifth full-length album under his own name, is partially a score to this film, but it's also-in Chad's view-a country record.
Always a fan of esoteric instruments, Chad recently acquired an aluminum pedal steel guitar, and began trying to figure out how to play it: "It took me a month to set it up, and a year to be comfortable recording myself playing this thing." His experiments with this instrument unify the album, along with themes of death, transformation, fear, benign evil, and the eccentricity of love. A newfound affection for The Flying Burrito Brothers, and the sci-fi mysticism of the 1980s graphic novel The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius, were also significant in recent years.
Somehow, with all of its disparate influences and components, Shrink Dust might be one of the most accessible moments in CVG's creative life, simply because it is more apparent than ever how much fun he is having blurring the lines between the vivid worlds of his creation, and the world his audience inhabits. For those who are open to it, Chad's adventures in music and art illuminate a path that is more colorful, playful, and sustainable than those commonly available to us. A path that is, most importantly, always changeable.
You can see and hear his alternate reality through the artifacts he offers up. But as it turns out, the only true access point into Chad VanGaalen's expanding universe is one's own will to create.
Find Chad: He's a monster.
*Gem Clouds, Garbage Island, Black Mold, Dub Tassels, Raw Operator, Inventions of Science
- Bryan Webb

QTY with Special Guest Honey

Nothing just happens overnight. QTY might seem like they arrived perfectly formed last October with the release of 'Rodeo' - a bright, joyous indie rock lightning bolt that feels as much of a force of friendship as that detailed in its narrative - but Dan Lardner and Alex Niemetz had been working towards that moment for most of their lives.

"I was always a songwriter," Dan smiles, explaining how he first picked up a guitar at 11 years old and started writing songs "about whatever" with a friend. Later, QTY bassist Peter Baumann would teach him how to play properly and, from there, they started a band.

Alex, meanwhile, was given her uncle's guitar when she was 12, practiced as much as she could and then formed her own band with her best friends. "We took different approaches to music," Dan explains. "I was thinking, 'Guitar's alright, as long as I learn some chords I can do whatever.' Alex took the approach of, 'I should be the best.' And then we met and it was perfect."

A few year later, as two 17-year-olds in New York City, the pair began conversing online and eventually met up in person. They instantly cemented a firm bond that would see them through a myriad of ups, downs and false starts with the band they formed together. It also eventually inspired their aforementioned debut single as QTY, which gained them immediate support and acclaim from the likes of NME, DIY, Paste, Radio 1's Huw Stephens and Australia's Triple J. Just as the lyrics depict finding your person, Alex and Dan found each other. "When I first met Dan, he embodied everything that I wanted in a partner in crime and his lyrics exhibited what I was trying to express musically," Alex explains. "They were like nothing I had ever seen before."

"Having a partner in Alex meant for the first time being able to put my lyrics to the music I had dreamed of one day being able to make, but always was out of reach from my ability," Dan agrees. "Al is my other half and has always been able to come up with and execute the exact right parts in every song. To me, she is what makes the band special. I wouldn't want to keep pursuing music without her by my side."

The early days of QTY couldn't have been more serendipitous. A short trip to San Francisco resulted in demos of three songs, which were recorded over two days. On their return to New York, Dan's then-roommate sent the tracks, including the original version of 'Dress/Undress', to Dirty Hit. A little while later, Dan got a call from an unrecognised British number. "I was like, 'There's too many numbers [in the phone number]' and I threw my phone somewhere," he recalls. Eventually, he answered and the path towards a deal was laid.

QTY's self-titled debut album is both testament to and justification of their perseverance and patience over the years. Recorded over six weeks in London, the band describe the act of making the record as something of a long-held desire. "Every day, just waking up and recording was so cool," says Dan. "Recording an album has always been a lifelong dream."

As is befitting of a band who'd worked tirelessly just to get the opportunity to turn that dream into reality, the duo weren't about to start slacking off in the studio, taking only a couple of days off in the entire time they were overseas. "We had to be in the studio early in the morning, which - as devout night owls - Dan and I were unsure of how we would feel," Alex explains. "But waking up and walking to the studio everyday was one of the best feelings we've ever felt - having that sense of purpose and running off that natural rush was exhilarating."

The album was recorded with former Suede guitarist and erudite producer Bernard Butler. "He was really good and helpful," Alex says. "He would help zero in on stuff. We had never done that or worked with someone like that before." With him at the helm, the duo's songs were brought to life as the gleaming triumphs that inhabit the album. Alex's guitar work mirrors the lyrics on each track perfectly. On 'Cold Nights'' chorus, she slides through notes that are fittingly frosty and glacial. 'Notify Me' features a tumbling melody that's as majestic as it is blistering, while she takes the lead on 'New Beginnings' - the album's penultimate and pensive track - bringing her soft, velvet vocals out of the background to make something soothing and stunning.

As debut albums go, 'QTY' is one of the strongest first steps a new band has released in ages. Each of its 10 tracks feel like a vital shot, from the second the record jumpstarts with 'Rodeo', through gently buzzing soother 'Notify Me' to 'Salvation', which steadily builds to a softly searing end that feels like some kind of heavenly interjection. It continuously references life and living in varying shades of dark and light, and Dan's evocative, storytelling lyrics deal out microscopic close-ups of the minutiae of his and Alex's day-to-day.

'Word For This' details nights that go on forever ("Some things you can count on/I've got a number and the night will end/Sometime, later on, when the couch is a godsend"), while 'Salvation' addresses the anxieties of dealing with the world he inhabits ("Came back from a night in to find myself in the world that I hide from"). The melancholy, '60s girl-group pop of 'Sad Poetic', meanwhile, is a self-deprecating, world-weary lament ("And I heard that time heals all wounds/I never knew that even time could bruise"). Each is shining proof that, what others might consider peripheral mundanities, QTY find the importance, beauty, meaning and - most of all - humanity in.

Fascinated with wordplay and double entendres, Dan's apartment is filled with notebooks that he writes in every day, jotting down lines about whatever's around him or is happening in his life. Those fragments only make it any further if Alex can understand what he's trying to say. "Alex is the smart one," Dan laughs. "So if it makes sense to her then it's okay. Then it can go in a song."

As QTY prepare to bring those specific-but-relatable snapshots to venues and audiences worldwide (live the band's line-up is completed by drummer Alan Yuch), the imminent release of their debut album marks a big achievement for Dan and Alex. "Having an album out has been our dream since day one," Dan says. "I look at it as a document of our lives and time together up until the point of recording it. It will exist out there and you'll be able to hold it in your hands and and pull it out from your collection on your shelf between your copies of 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'American Water' and play it. With this album, I am now more sure then I have ever been that I do, in fact, exist."

Nothing just happens overnight. QTY might seem like they arrived perfectly formed last October with the release of 'Rodeo' - a bright, joyous indie rock lightning bolt that feels as much of a force of friendship as that detailed in its narrative - but Dan Lardner and Alex Niemetz had been working towards that moment for most of their lives.

"I was always a songwriter," Dan smiles, explaining how he first picked up a guitar at 11 years old and started writing songs "about whatever" with a friend. Later, QTY bassist Peter Baumann would teach him how to play properly and, from there, they started a band.

Alex, meanwhile, was given her uncle's guitar when she was 12, practiced as much as she could and then formed her own band with her best friends. "We took different approaches to music," Dan explains. "I was thinking, 'Guitar's alright, as long as I learn some chords I can do whatever.' Alex took the approach of, 'I should be the best.' And then we met and it was perfect."

A few year later, as two 17-year-olds in New York City, the pair began conversing online and eventually met up in person. They instantly cemented a firm bond that would see them through a myriad of ups, downs and false starts with the band they formed together. It also eventually inspired their aforementioned debut single as QTY, which gained them immediate support and acclaim from the likes of NME, DIY, Paste, Radio 1's Huw Stephens and Australia's Triple J. Just as the lyrics depict finding your person, Alex and Dan found each other. "When I first met Dan, he embodied everything that I wanted in a partner in crime and his lyrics exhibited what I was trying to express musically," Alex explains. "They were like nothing I had ever seen before."

"Having a partner in Alex meant for the first time being able to put my lyrics to the music I had dreamed of one day being able to make, but always was out of reach from my ability," Dan agrees. "Al is my other half and has always been able to come up with and execute the exact right parts in every song. To me, she is what makes the band special. I wouldn't want to keep pursuing music without her by my side."

The early days of QTY couldn't have been more serendipitous. A short trip to San Francisco resulted in demos of three songs, which were recorded over two days. On their return to New York, Dan's then-roommate sent the tracks, including the original version of 'Dress/Undress', to Dirty Hit. A little while later, Dan got a call from an unrecognised British number. "I was like, 'There's too many numbers [in the phone number]' and I threw my phone somewhere," he recalls. Eventually, he answered and the path towards a deal was laid.

QTY's self-titled debut album is both testament to and justification of their perseverance and patience over the years. Recorded over six weeks in London, the band describe the act of making the record as something of a long-held desire. "Every day, just waking up and recording was so cool," says Dan. "Recording an album has always been a lifelong dream."

As is befitting of a band who'd worked tirelessly just to get the opportunity to turn that dream into reality, the duo weren't about to start slacking off in the studio, taking only a couple of days off in the entire time they were overseas. "We had to be in the studio early in the morning, which - as devout night owls - Dan and I were unsure of how we would feel," Alex explains. "But waking up and walking to the studio everyday was one of the best feelings we've ever felt - having that sense of purpose and running off that natural rush was exhilarating."

The album was recorded with former Suede guitarist and erudite producer Bernard Butler. "He was really good and helpful," Alex says. "He would help zero in on stuff. We had never done that or worked with someone like that before." With him at the helm, the duo's songs were brought to life as the gleaming triumphs that inhabit the album. Alex's guitar work mirrors the lyrics on each track perfectly. On 'Cold Nights'' chorus, she slides through notes that are fittingly frosty and glacial. 'Notify Me' features a tumbling melody that's as majestic as it is blistering, while she takes the lead on 'New Beginnings' - the album's penultimate and pensive track - bringing her soft, velvet vocals out of the background to make something soothing and stunning.

As debut albums go, 'QTY' is one of the strongest first steps a new band has released in ages. Each of its 10 tracks feel like a vital shot, from the second the record jumpstarts with 'Rodeo', through gently buzzing soother 'Notify Me' to 'Salvation', which steadily builds to a softly searing end that feels like some kind of heavenly interjection. It continuously references life and living in varying shades of dark and light, and Dan's evocative, storytelling lyrics deal out microscopic close-ups of the minutiae of his and Alex's day-to-day.

'Word For This' details nights that go on forever ("Some things you can count on/I've got a number and the night will end/Sometime, later on, when the couch is a godsend"), while 'Salvation' addresses the anxieties of dealing with the world he inhabits ("Came back from a night in to find myself in the world that I hide from"). The melancholy, '60s girl-group pop of 'Sad Poetic', meanwhile, is a self-deprecating, world-weary lament ("And I heard that time heals all wounds/I never knew that even time could bruise"). Each is shining proof that, what others might consider peripheral mundanities, QTY find the importance, beauty, meaning and - most of all - humanity in.

Fascinated with wordplay and double entendres, Dan's apartment is filled with notebooks that he writes in every day, jotting down lines about whatever's around him or is happening in his life. Those fragments only make it any further if Alex can understand what he's trying to say. "Alex is the smart one," Dan laughs. "So if it makes sense to her then it's okay. Then it can go in a song."

As QTY prepare to bring those specific-but-relatable snapshots to venues and audiences worldwide (live the band's line-up is completed by drummer Alan Yuch), the imminent release of their debut album marks a big achievement for Dan and Alex. "Having an album out has been our dream since day one," Dan says. "I look at it as a document of our lives and time together up until the point of recording it. It will exist out there and you'll be able to hold it in your hands and and pull it out from your collection on your shelf between your copies of 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'American Water' and play it. With this album, I am now more sure then I have ever been that I do, in fact, exist."

Dayshift / Sunhound / A-Money and the Downtown City

Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, Dayshift embodies the history of hard work and dedication associated with the steel city. Deeply rooted in the family of the service industry, the band strives to stretch the boundaries of genre to provide an energetic yet relaxing atmosphere for those who just got off and those who are still on the clock. CHYPE Rock (that's chill & hype) can be used to describe their sound. Dayshift is a three-piece band comprised of guitar, bass, and drums.

Ryan Caldwell fronts the band with insightful lyrics and ever-evolving guitar technique. Music veteran Josh Clary explores the pocket with his bass prowess and complimentary vocal backing. Westminster jazz drumming student Braden Ball drives the band with his young and energetic, yet wise approach to navigating the kit. Each member is a multi-instrumentalist which provides diverse possibility to each live show.

After less than a year of practicing together, Dayshift took to the studio and recorded their first, self-titled EP at Church Recording Studio in Overbrook. It is available on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon.

Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, Dayshift embodies the history of hard work and dedication associated with the steel city. Deeply rooted in the family of the service industry, the band strives to stretch the boundaries of genre to provide an energetic yet relaxing atmosphere for those who just got off and those who are still on the clock. CHYPE Rock (that's chill & hype) can be used to describe their sound. Dayshift is a three-piece band comprised of guitar, bass, and drums.

Ryan Caldwell fronts the band with insightful lyrics and ever-evolving guitar technique. Music veteran Josh Clary explores the pocket with his bass prowess and complimentary vocal backing. Westminster jazz drumming student Braden Ball drives the band with his young and energetic, yet wise approach to navigating the kit. Each member is a multi-instrumentalist which provides diverse possibility to each live show.

After less than a year of practicing together, Dayshift took to the studio and recorded their first, self-titled EP at Church Recording Studio in Overbrook. It is available on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon.

Kris Allen - Somethin' About Christmas Tour 2017 with Special Guest Marie Miller

On New Year's Day in 2013, Kris Allen and his then-pregnant wife Katy were in a head-on collision that left the singer/songwriter/guitarist with a career-threatening shattered wrist. In the two years that followed, he underwent three surgeries, re-learned how to play guitar (despite regaining just 30 percent movement in the damaged wrist), recorded his third album, and toured relentlessly-including a two-month-long stint that started just one week after his accident. The American Idol season 8 winner ultimately retreated from the whirlwind and immersed himself in a songwriting spell that yielded more than 70 new tracks. Culled from that collection of songs, Allen's fourth full-length album Letting You In finds the Nashville-based artist delivering his most intimate and dynamic work to date.

The follow-up to 2014's Horizons, Letting You In builds off the soulful musicality Allen first showcased with his platinum-selling 2009 single "Live Like We're Dying." But with its sophisticated songcraft and vulnerable lyrics, Letting You In reaches a new depth of feeling that infuses each track with undeniable emotional power. "Looking back, I think I tried to put off dealing with my feelings around the accident for as long as I could," says Allen. "But in the past year I've realized how much it all affected me, and that definitely came out in the writing of this album."

Allen recorded in Nashville with producers Konrad Snyder (Mat Kearney, Owl City, Milo Greene), Ian Fitchuk (James Bay, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, Griffin House), and Grammy Award-winner Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Kenny Rogers, Steven Curtis Chapman) and made a point of exploring both the bright and dark elements of everyday life. "There's almost two different sides to the record," Allen notes. "On one hand you've got these happy love songs, because that's my life-I'm a
happily married guy, everything with my family's really great. But internally I was going through some things and trying to figure out my life, and the rest of the album very much came from that."

The latter category of songs includes "My Time Will Come," whose lyrics reflect on Allen's struggles with self-doubt ("Lately I've been making friends with the doubts in my head/Hanging on every word that they've said"). But with its lilting guitar melodies and soaring vocals, the song ultimately emerges as an anthem of gritty perseverance. On "If We Keep Doing Nothing," Allen offers a poignant look outward. Written in the wake of the mass shooting at Oregon's Umpqua Community College, the song's throwback-soul arrangement of stark guitar tones and stirring organ lines provide a powerful backdrop for a determined meditation on gun violence.

While Letting You In takes on its share of weighty matters, the album radiates a hopeful spirit that's got everything to do with Allen's easy warmth and open-heartedness as a songwriter and vocalist. One of Letting You In's most uplifting tracks, "Way Up High" blends cascading guitar lines, breezy melodies, and slice-of-life storytelling that came to Allen while flying back home after spending days away from his family. "Usually when I'm writing a song I start with the music, but with ‘Way Up High' the lyrics all came to me in poem form," he says. "I just tried to get down all these thoughts that were rolling through my head at the time, in a very stream-of-consciousness sort of way, and it all felt really natural." And among the love songs that make up
much of Letting You In is "Waves," whose gospel-inspired harmonies and spirited piano work perfectly together in capturing the tenderness of Allen's opposites-attract serenade to his wife.

Allen first picked up the guitar at age 13, after spending much of his childhood singing in church in his hometown of Jacksonville, Arkansas. Writing his first song in his late teens, he self-released an album at age 22 and auditioned for the eighth season of American Idol the following year. Several months after his Idol victory Allen put out his self-titled major label debut, with lead single "Live Like We're Dying" climbing to the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. In addition to releasing his sophomore album Thank You Camellia in 2012, he spent the next several years sharing stages with such artists as Maroon 5 and Keith Urban, as well as landing Billboard, Teen Choice and People's Choice Awards nominations.

In the aftermath of his accident, Allen devoted himself to relearning guitar, adjusting his technique to adapt to the lack of movement in his wrist. "At first I thought I'd never be able to play again," he recalls. "But once I got my cast off, I spent more time playing than I ever had in my life. Through all that I realized that I shouldn't take my craft for granted, so I really focused on developing it and becoming even stronger as a guitar player than I ever was before."

Along with rebuilding his guitar skills, Allen revamped his approach to songwriting and soon saw a resurgence in his creativity. "When I've made albums in the past, there've always been other artists and songwriters that I was using as reference points," says Allen, who names Stevie Ray Vaughan and Stevie Wonder among his earliest inspirations. "But this time I shut myself off from all that, and just focused on making music that was completely true to me."

That process proved both thrilling and daunting, but in the end instilled him with a new sense of purpose as an artist. "When I first started making music, it was very much coming from a place of ‘Are people gonna like this?'" he recalls. "But as I was making this album, it really became more about being genuine and writing songs that feel good. My hope is that if those songs mean a lot to me, they'll mean a lot to the people listening, and that they'll get some of that hopeful feeling too."

Not too long after the release of Letting You In, Allen delivered his first full-length Christmas album, Somethin' About Christmas, which is a delightful combination of originals and Christmas classics. Some of the Christmas classics that may ring a bell include "Jingle Bells" (featuring former contestant of "The Voice", Caroline Glaser) and "Winter Wonderland" (featuring Jillian

Edwards), just to name a few. The originals on this album, such as "Somethin' About Christmas Morning" (featuring Gabe Dixon) and "Peace and Happiness", provide a jazzy and joyful feel, which is what Allen was wanting to create. "I genuinely love Christmas music and how it can transport you to such a joyful and fun place," he says. "I think for a lot of people, it is those traditions in Christmas that they love, and I wanted my album "Somethin' About Christmas" to become a new tradition for people to enjoy this time of year." For fans looking to get in the Christmas spirit, Allen has decided to hit the road this winter for a Christmas tour.

On New Year's Day in 2013, Kris Allen and his then-pregnant wife Katy were in a head-on collision that left the singer/songwriter/guitarist with a career-threatening shattered wrist. In the two years that followed, he underwent three surgeries, re-learned how to play guitar (despite regaining just 30 percent movement in the damaged wrist), recorded his third album, and toured relentlessly-including a two-month-long stint that started just one week after his accident. The American Idol season 8 winner ultimately retreated from the whirlwind and immersed himself in a songwriting spell that yielded more than 70 new tracks. Culled from that collection of songs, Allen's fourth full-length album Letting You In finds the Nashville-based artist delivering his most intimate and dynamic work to date.

The follow-up to 2014's Horizons, Letting You In builds off the soulful musicality Allen first showcased with his platinum-selling 2009 single "Live Like We're Dying." But with its sophisticated songcraft and vulnerable lyrics, Letting You In reaches a new depth of feeling that infuses each track with undeniable emotional power. "Looking back, I think I tried to put off dealing with my feelings around the accident for as long as I could," says Allen. "But in the past year I've realized how much it all affected me, and that definitely came out in the writing of this album."

Allen recorded in Nashville with producers Konrad Snyder (Mat Kearney, Owl City, Milo Greene), Ian Fitchuk (James Bay, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, Griffin House), and Grammy Award-winner Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Kenny Rogers, Steven Curtis Chapman) and made a point of exploring both the bright and dark elements of everyday life. "There's almost two different sides to the record," Allen notes. "On one hand you've got these happy love songs, because that's my life-I'm a
happily married guy, everything with my family's really great. But internally I was going through some things and trying to figure out my life, and the rest of the album very much came from that."

The latter category of songs includes "My Time Will Come," whose lyrics reflect on Allen's struggles with self-doubt ("Lately I've been making friends with the doubts in my head/Hanging on every word that they've said"). But with its lilting guitar melodies and soaring vocals, the song ultimately emerges as an anthem of gritty perseverance. On "If We Keep Doing Nothing," Allen offers a poignant look outward. Written in the wake of the mass shooting at Oregon's Umpqua Community College, the song's throwback-soul arrangement of stark guitar tones and stirring organ lines provide a powerful backdrop for a determined meditation on gun violence.

While Letting You In takes on its share of weighty matters, the album radiates a hopeful spirit that's got everything to do with Allen's easy warmth and open-heartedness as a songwriter and vocalist. One of Letting You In's most uplifting tracks, "Way Up High" blends cascading guitar lines, breezy melodies, and slice-of-life storytelling that came to Allen while flying back home after spending days away from his family. "Usually when I'm writing a song I start with the music, but with ‘Way Up High' the lyrics all came to me in poem form," he says. "I just tried to get down all these thoughts that were rolling through my head at the time, in a very stream-of-consciousness sort of way, and it all felt really natural." And among the love songs that make up
much of Letting You In is "Waves," whose gospel-inspired harmonies and spirited piano work perfectly together in capturing the tenderness of Allen's opposites-attract serenade to his wife.

Allen first picked up the guitar at age 13, after spending much of his childhood singing in church in his hometown of Jacksonville, Arkansas. Writing his first song in his late teens, he self-released an album at age 22 and auditioned for the eighth season of American Idol the following year. Several months after his Idol victory Allen put out his self-titled major label debut, with lead single "Live Like We're Dying" climbing to the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. In addition to releasing his sophomore album Thank You Camellia in 2012, he spent the next several years sharing stages with such artists as Maroon 5 and Keith Urban, as well as landing Billboard, Teen Choice and People's Choice Awards nominations.

In the aftermath of his accident, Allen devoted himself to relearning guitar, adjusting his technique to adapt to the lack of movement in his wrist. "At first I thought I'd never be able to play again," he recalls. "But once I got my cast off, I spent more time playing than I ever had in my life. Through all that I realized that I shouldn't take my craft for granted, so I really focused on developing it and becoming even stronger as a guitar player than I ever was before."

Along with rebuilding his guitar skills, Allen revamped his approach to songwriting and soon saw a resurgence in his creativity. "When I've made albums in the past, there've always been other artists and songwriters that I was using as reference points," says Allen, who names Stevie Ray Vaughan and Stevie Wonder among his earliest inspirations. "But this time I shut myself off from all that, and just focused on making music that was completely true to me."

That process proved both thrilling and daunting, but in the end instilled him with a new sense of purpose as an artist. "When I first started making music, it was very much coming from a place of ‘Are people gonna like this?'" he recalls. "But as I was making this album, it really became more about being genuine and writing songs that feel good. My hope is that if those songs mean a lot to me, they'll mean a lot to the people listening, and that they'll get some of that hopeful feeling too."

Not too long after the release of Letting You In, Allen delivered his first full-length Christmas album, Somethin' About Christmas, which is a delightful combination of originals and Christmas classics. Some of the Christmas classics that may ring a bell include "Jingle Bells" (featuring former contestant of "The Voice", Caroline Glaser) and "Winter Wonderland" (featuring Jillian

Edwards), just to name a few. The originals on this album, such as "Somethin' About Christmas Morning" (featuring Gabe Dixon) and "Peace and Happiness", provide a jazzy and joyful feel, which is what Allen was wanting to create. "I genuinely love Christmas music and how it can transport you to such a joyful and fun place," he says. "I think for a lot of people, it is those traditions in Christmas that they love, and I wanted my album "Somethin' About Christmas" to become a new tradition for people to enjoy this time of year." For fans looking to get in the Christmas spirit, Allen has decided to hit the road this winter for a Christmas tour.

(Early Show) The Optimists

From the swampy basements of western PA come the roots-pop rumblings of The Optimists, four Pittsburgh music-scene lifers who still carry the torch for guitar-based verse/chorus songwriting, the likes of which hasn't been heard around these parts since radios had dials and phones plugged into the wall. They dig for hooks wherever they can find them and try to verbalize ideas in some kind of way that makes some kind of sense. To them, at least. Too young to be hip but too old to die, the Optimists are waging a war for the soul of rock 'n roll and they won't stop till Dorothy surrenders.

From the swampy basements of western PA come the roots-pop rumblings of The Optimists, four Pittsburgh music-scene lifers who still carry the torch for guitar-based verse/chorus songwriting, the likes of which hasn't been heard around these parts since radios had dials and phones plugged into the wall. They dig for hooks wherever they can find them and try to verbalize ideas in some kind of way that makes some kind of sense. To them, at least. Too young to be hip but too old to die, the Optimists are waging a war for the soul of rock 'n roll and they won't stop till Dorothy surrenders.

(Late Show) Matt Aquiline & the Dead End Streets - CD Release Show with Special Guest Tim Vitullo

Singer/songwriter Matt Aquiline lived and performed in Washington, DC for nearly two decades, but he has always been of Pittsburgh first and recently returned to his hometown to raise his family and perform his music in the town where it was formed.

Aquiline began performing in Pittsburgh in the early '90s and recorded his cd, Dice Roll, at Dave World in Ambridge, PA, backed by some of Pittsburgh's best musicians including Whitey Cooper and Sam Klingensmith of Norman Nardini and the Tigers, Joe Marini of Jim Donovan and the Sun King Warriors and at least 1 Granati brother.

He moved to DC to further other career pursuits, where he formed the band, Kid Goat, which performed in the DC area for ten years and recorded the 2009 cd, These People Aren’t You. Kid Goat disbanded in 2013 and Aquiline returned to Pittsburgh to continue writing and performing his music there.

To help bring his sound home, Aquiline enlisted veterans of the local scene Stefan Rodriguez (Bad Attitude, Full Circle Band, Electriflyers) on Bass, Neil Carr (Scene 14, RockHeart, Gringo Zydeco) on Lead Guitar and Vocals and Bill Maruca (Sandoz, The Pawnbrokers, TheCAUSE, Billy Price) on Keys, and the youthful talents of Evan Cvejkus on Drums and Heather Catley on Vocals and Guitar. Catley and other band members have also begun contributing their own stellar original material to Aquiline's, adding even more dimension to a sound that already married folk, rock, blues, country and a little blue-eyed soul into an Americana sound that is pure Pittsburgh, with skill, authenticity and the kind of depth you develop surviving a few cold Winters.

Singer/songwriter Matt Aquiline lived and performed in Washington, DC for nearly two decades, but he has always been of Pittsburgh first and recently returned to his hometown to raise his family and perform his music in the town where it was formed.

Aquiline began performing in Pittsburgh in the early '90s and recorded his cd, Dice Roll, at Dave World in Ambridge, PA, backed by some of Pittsburgh's best musicians including Whitey Cooper and Sam Klingensmith of Norman Nardini and the Tigers, Joe Marini of Jim Donovan and the Sun King Warriors and at least 1 Granati brother.

He moved to DC to further other career pursuits, where he formed the band, Kid Goat, which performed in the DC area for ten years and recorded the 2009 cd, These People Aren’t You. Kid Goat disbanded in 2013 and Aquiline returned to Pittsburgh to continue writing and performing his music there.

To help bring his sound home, Aquiline enlisted veterans of the local scene Stefan Rodriguez (Bad Attitude, Full Circle Band, Electriflyers) on Bass, Neil Carr (Scene 14, RockHeart, Gringo Zydeco) on Lead Guitar and Vocals and Bill Maruca (Sandoz, The Pawnbrokers, TheCAUSE, Billy Price) on Keys, and the youthful talents of Evan Cvejkus on Drums and Heather Catley on Vocals and Guitar. Catley and other band members have also begun contributing their own stellar original material to Aquiline's, adding even more dimension to a sound that already married folk, rock, blues, country and a little blue-eyed soul into an Americana sound that is pure Pittsburgh, with skill, authenticity and the kind of depth you develop surviving a few cold Winters.

Matt Pond PA with Special Guests Ricky Lewis and Cold Weather - Presented by 91.3 WYEP & Opus One

All year round, it's still summer. And indie rocker Matt Pond's adventure continues. The brakes are shot, the pickup truck is rusted through and overheating. Everyone is out of their minds.

Matt Pond is not outspoken, but he loves to speak and to be spoken to. To dive into the frigid water of understanding and trust the depth. To write songs that make sense of ridiculous daily dissonance, beautifully failed relationships, of the brilliant miscalculations in an easy whisper. It's that simple: It was all for the experience; it was all for the ride.

At around ninety-five miles an hour, the steering wheel will start to uncontrollably shake in most high-mileage, fifteen-passenger vans. At the same speed and in the same state of mind, it's nearly impossible to navigate the murky world of music. Since its inception in Philadelphia in 1998, Matt Pond PA has traveled a road of perpetual transformation, a shifting cast of copilots and collaborators defining the band's every season.

On August 11, 2017, matt pond PA will release Still Summer, their twelfth full-length album and the second Pond is releasing under his independent label, 131 Records. "It's not about reliving the past," says Pond. "It's about allowing the present to breathe. It's about holding hands with ghosts and then letting go."

On this album Pond features the likes of Laura Stevenson, Laura Burhenn, Caroline Reese and Anya Marina. And of course there's the copilots, Chris Hansen, Shawn Alpay, Mel Guerison and Kyle Kelly-Yahner, right there with him.

Along with Winter Lives, released in December 2016 by 131 Records, Still Summer will be the last album Pond releases as Matt Pond PA. Over time, a new track or take will be added to each - this is the never-ending conclusion of Matt Pond PA's strange musical tour.

There will be more music. Yet the serious ones say summer only lasts so long. Soon there will be different titles, unfamiliar names, unforeseen sounds associated with Matt Pond. As if the beginning and the end were one and the same.

All year round, it's still summer. And indie rocker Matt Pond's adventure continues. The brakes are shot, the pickup truck is rusted through and overheating. Everyone is out of their minds.

Matt Pond is not outspoken, but he loves to speak and to be spoken to. To dive into the frigid water of understanding and trust the depth. To write songs that make sense of ridiculous daily dissonance, beautifully failed relationships, of the brilliant miscalculations in an easy whisper. It's that simple: It was all for the experience; it was all for the ride.

At around ninety-five miles an hour, the steering wheel will start to uncontrollably shake in most high-mileage, fifteen-passenger vans. At the same speed and in the same state of mind, it's nearly impossible to navigate the murky world of music. Since its inception in Philadelphia in 1998, Matt Pond PA has traveled a road of perpetual transformation, a shifting cast of copilots and collaborators defining the band's every season.

On August 11, 2017, matt pond PA will release Still Summer, their twelfth full-length album and the second Pond is releasing under his independent label, 131 Records. "It's not about reliving the past," says Pond. "It's about allowing the present to breathe. It's about holding hands with ghosts and then letting go."

On this album Pond features the likes of Laura Stevenson, Laura Burhenn, Caroline Reese and Anya Marina. And of course there's the copilots, Chris Hansen, Shawn Alpay, Mel Guerison and Kyle Kelly-Yahner, right there with him.

Along with Winter Lives, released in December 2016 by 131 Records, Still Summer will be the last album Pond releases as Matt Pond PA. Over time, a new track or take will be added to each - this is the never-ending conclusion of Matt Pond PA's strange musical tour.

There will be more music. Yet the serious ones say summer only lasts so long. Soon there will be different titles, unfamiliar names, unforeseen sounds associated with Matt Pond. As if the beginning and the end were one and the same.

Calliope Songwriters Open Stage at Club Cafe with Featured Performer Chris Jones

No cover! Doors and sign up open at 7pm, the event starts at 8pm. All acts and performers welcome.

Beginning in November, Club Cafe’s monthly open stage will be joining forces with Calliope and John Hayes (long time host of the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern’s open mic night). All acts and genres are welcome to attend. The open stage will happen the first Tuesday of every month (with the exception of December 2017 which will fall the 2nd Tues of the month). We are excited to be working with John and Calliope and look forward to this next chapter in our long running, well revered open stage.

No cover! Doors and sign up open at 7pm, the event starts at 8pm. All acts and performers welcome.

Beginning in November, Club Cafe’s monthly open stage will be joining forces with Calliope and John Hayes (long time host of the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern’s open mic night). All acts and genres are welcome to attend. The open stage will happen the first Tuesday of every month (with the exception of December 2017 which will fall the 2nd Tues of the month). We are excited to be working with John and Calliope and look forward to this next chapter in our long running, well revered open stage.

Twisted Pine with Special Guests The Hills and the Rivers, and Sweetheart of the Barricades

The phenomenal Boston song machine TWISTED PINE delivers a cabinet of inventions with its self-titled summer of '17 debut release [July 14, 2017] from Signature Sounds Recordings. The all-original album showcases a new force in Americana: four versatile players and singers writing and improvising across forms in bluegrass, folk, funk, jam, and vintage radio pop. With festively unpredictable live shows, Twisted Pine follows Americana masters Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers on a genre-bending, limitless trajectory.

Twisted Pine's album expands on the early life of the ensemble, which formed around a common obsession with the American bluegrass repertoire. The group rose fast in Boston, in the urban incubator of conservatories and Back Bay venues that produced label roster-mates Lake Street Dive and Crooked Still, plus Sarah Jarosz, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Esperanza Spalding, and Annie Clark (St. Vincent). Twisted Pine took an extended residency at the Cantab Lounge, the Mass Ave. dive bar in Cambridge where the raging Northeast bluegrass scene coalesces on Tuesday nights. The players, most of whom were still at Berklee College of Music, built those first set lists with deeply satisfying bluegrass interpretations. They ventured out during school-year summers to play festivals, and won first place in the prestigious band competitions at MASS MoCA's FreshGrass Bluegrass Festival and Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Special. Their resume grew: Joe Val Bluegrass, Green River Festival, Otis Mountain Get Down, RockyGrass (where they were runners up in a wicked sudden death band competition), Musikfest, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Ossipee Valley Music Festival, Celtic Connections (Glasgow), Club Passim's Down Home Up Here Bluegrass Festival, and many more. With a festive, anything's-possible stage presence, Twisted Pine built a reputation for stellar musicianship, string virtuosity, and luminous harmonies, all of which remain their hallmarks.

Twisted Pine evolved into something more than an interpreter of vintage American works; the band began to arrange bluegrass treatments of pop covers like Blondie's "Heart of Glass", and a mashup of Bill Monroe and Vulfpeck - which went viral when Vulf re-posted the video. A certain inventiveness, combined with a compelling and growing list of each player's originals, caught the attention of Signature Sounds.

"As soon as we learned that Signature Sounds was interested, we made a conscious decision to focus on writing and arranging our own original music," said Dan Bui, Twisted Pine mandolinist. "As a group we had never done that, and there was a bit of a growing phase where we were learning how to write together and seeing what came out. There was kind of an unspoken understanding that stylistically it was going to be a bit different, but we never sat down and said we were going to write in any particular style, like we were going to write poppier songs or whatever. What came out was just us finally being able to express ourselves, drawing from all of our musical and personal influences."

The influences on the ensemble are vast - as all four have studied music from childhood, and traveled widely - but the most obvious are these: Dan Bui (mandolin, vocals) is a devotee of virtuoso picking and experimental bluegrass and jazz. Kathleen Parks (fiddle/lead vocals) was raised in a household of Celtic music and jazz, which set deep roots for her insane fiddling, velvet film-noir vocals, and a roving interest in pop song forms. Chris Sartori (bass, vocals), frequently seen around Boston on electric bass in funk, jazz, and R&B settings, is arbiter of the deep pocket and the improvisational grooves. Rachel Sumner (guitar/lead vocals) is a student of the song: an omnibus of British ballads, obscure folk tunes, avant garde orchestral work, and radio pop. Her vocals have the crystalline clarity of Appalachian field recordings.

The excitement of Twisted Pine's live show - Parks and Bui's neo-jazz interplay, Bui and Sartori's funky rhythm section, Sumner and Parks' astral harmonies - comes through in the big pop sound of Twisted Pine, which was co-produced by the band and Dan Cardinal [Josh Ritter, Lori McKenna, Darlingside, Ballroom Thieves] at Dimension Studios.

"Dan Cardinal was able to pick up on our vibe instantly, and really steered us in the right direction," says Dan Bui. "His biggest influence on the album can be heard sonically. Dimension has kind of been a go-to spot for making records in the Boston bluegrass/folk scene lately, but Dan also brings in a wider sonic sensibility that he tastefully put to use on our record. Crunchy Wurlitzer piano, distorted guitar amps, and a swirling Leslie speaker all found their way onto the record. But he was always very thoughtful of what the song needed and was calling for and he provided invaluable advice and feedback throughout the process."

The phenomenal Boston song machine TWISTED PINE delivers a cabinet of inventions with its self-titled summer of '17 debut release [July 14, 2017] from Signature Sounds Recordings. The all-original album showcases a new force in Americana: four versatile players and singers writing and improvising across forms in bluegrass, folk, funk, jam, and vintage radio pop. With festively unpredictable live shows, Twisted Pine follows Americana masters Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers on a genre-bending, limitless trajectory.

Twisted Pine's album expands on the early life of the ensemble, which formed around a common obsession with the American bluegrass repertoire. The group rose fast in Boston, in the urban incubator of conservatories and Back Bay venues that produced label roster-mates Lake Street Dive and Crooked Still, plus Sarah Jarosz, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Esperanza Spalding, and Annie Clark (St. Vincent). Twisted Pine took an extended residency at the Cantab Lounge, the Mass Ave. dive bar in Cambridge where the raging Northeast bluegrass scene coalesces on Tuesday nights. The players, most of whom were still at Berklee College of Music, built those first set lists with deeply satisfying bluegrass interpretations. They ventured out during school-year summers to play festivals, and won first place in the prestigious band competitions at MASS MoCA's FreshGrass Bluegrass Festival and Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Special. Their resume grew: Joe Val Bluegrass, Green River Festival, Otis Mountain Get Down, RockyGrass (where they were runners up in a wicked sudden death band competition), Musikfest, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Ossipee Valley Music Festival, Celtic Connections (Glasgow), Club Passim's Down Home Up Here Bluegrass Festival, and many more. With a festive, anything's-possible stage presence, Twisted Pine built a reputation for stellar musicianship, string virtuosity, and luminous harmonies, all of which remain their hallmarks.

Twisted Pine evolved into something more than an interpreter of vintage American works; the band began to arrange bluegrass treatments of pop covers like Blondie's "Heart of Glass", and a mashup of Bill Monroe and Vulfpeck - which went viral when Vulf re-posted the video. A certain inventiveness, combined with a compelling and growing list of each player's originals, caught the attention of Signature Sounds.

"As soon as we learned that Signature Sounds was interested, we made a conscious decision to focus on writing and arranging our own original music," said Dan Bui, Twisted Pine mandolinist. "As a group we had never done that, and there was a bit of a growing phase where we were learning how to write together and seeing what came out. There was kind of an unspoken understanding that stylistically it was going to be a bit different, but we never sat down and said we were going to write in any particular style, like we were going to write poppier songs or whatever. What came out was just us finally being able to express ourselves, drawing from all of our musical and personal influences."

The influences on the ensemble are vast - as all four have studied music from childhood, and traveled widely - but the most obvious are these: Dan Bui (mandolin, vocals) is a devotee of virtuoso picking and experimental bluegrass and jazz. Kathleen Parks (fiddle/lead vocals) was raised in a household of Celtic music and jazz, which set deep roots for her insane fiddling, velvet film-noir vocals, and a roving interest in pop song forms. Chris Sartori (bass, vocals), frequently seen around Boston on electric bass in funk, jazz, and R&B settings, is arbiter of the deep pocket and the improvisational grooves. Rachel Sumner (guitar/lead vocals) is a student of the song: an omnibus of British ballads, obscure folk tunes, avant garde orchestral work, and radio pop. Her vocals have the crystalline clarity of Appalachian field recordings.

The excitement of Twisted Pine's live show - Parks and Bui's neo-jazz interplay, Bui and Sartori's funky rhythm section, Sumner and Parks' astral harmonies - comes through in the big pop sound of Twisted Pine, which was co-produced by the band and Dan Cardinal [Josh Ritter, Lori McKenna, Darlingside, Ballroom Thieves] at Dimension Studios.

"Dan Cardinal was able to pick up on our vibe instantly, and really steered us in the right direction," says Dan Bui. "His biggest influence on the album can be heard sonically. Dimension has kind of been a go-to spot for making records in the Boston bluegrass/folk scene lately, but Dan also brings in a wider sonic sensibility that he tastefully put to use on our record. Crunchy Wurlitzer piano, distorted guitar amps, and a swirling Leslie speaker all found their way onto the record. But he was always very thoughtful of what the song needed and was calling for and he provided invaluable advice and feedback throughout the process."

Boy Named Banjo with Special Guests Juvenile Characteristics and The Mixus Brothers

Born and raised in Nashville, TN, the original three of Boy Named Banjo consists of members Barton Davies, William Reames, and Willard Logan, all of whom share a love for songwriting, performing, and roots music. The three long-time friends and former high school classmates assembled in 2011 and have built a strong following in the Southeast through both their studio releases and live performances. Since the band's first full-length release in May of 2012 "The Tanglewood Sessions," Boy Named Banjo has added two members: Sam McCullough (drums) and Abe Scott (bass). Though staying true to its acoustic roots, the band's sound has developed tremendously since the "Tanglewood" days, as Willard (greatly influenced by jam band guitarists Trey Anastasio & Jimmy Herring) has taken his electric guitar playing to the next level, while Sam and Abe have provided a solid, yet subtle, Rock foundation. While the band's sound has evolved tremendously, the quality of the songwriting, the hair raising three-part harmonies, the crafty musicianship, and the band's passion for what they do will always be a constant.

Born and raised in Nashville, TN, the original three of Boy Named Banjo consists of members Barton Davies, William Reames, and Willard Logan, all of whom share a love for songwriting, performing, and roots music. The three long-time friends and former high school classmates assembled in 2011 and have built a strong following in the Southeast through both their studio releases and live performances. Since the band's first full-length release in May of 2012 "The Tanglewood Sessions," Boy Named Banjo has added two members: Sam McCullough (drums) and Abe Scott (bass). Though staying true to its acoustic roots, the band's sound has developed tremendously since the "Tanglewood" days, as Willard (greatly influenced by jam band guitarists Trey Anastasio & Jimmy Herring) has taken his electric guitar playing to the next level, while Sam and Abe have provided a solid, yet subtle, Rock foundation. While the band's sound has evolved tremendously, the quality of the songwriting, the hair raising three-part harmonies, the crafty musicianship, and the band's passion for what they do will always be a constant.

@clubcafelive

56-58 South 12th Street, Pittsburgh PA 15203 (In Pittsburgh’s Historic South Side)