Big hair. Big egos. Bigger Rock N' Roll.
Big hair. Big egos. Bigger Rock N' Roll.
Smokin' Section is Pittsburgh's premier rock band, bringing you all of the hits of your past since 1993.
Steve Seel Guitar, Vocals
Steeped in Jimi, Billy Gibbons, Carlos, jazz fusion, and Pete Townshend, Steve brings an original take to classic soul and rock. And the dance never swung so hard. The bands driving push and harmonic base are Steves jumping off point for fiery, melodic solos. Aggressive yet lyrical, or maybe aggressively lyrical. However you see it, you gotta see it. And hear it.
Rick Gercak Bass, Vocals
Swing low, sweet Fender Jazz bass . . . Rick is the high priest of the low end. The master of the bottom, Rick owns the pulse and shakes some booties. His rhythmic bass playing recalls his youthful days in Puerto Rico. Plus, Rick sold his soul at the crossroads for that god-like voice. And hes the luckiest guy in the band.
Matthew Kweder Drums, Vocals
Swing it, baby, swing it. Cuz it dont mean a thing . . . Matthew rocks so hard, we have to hold him down. The king of groove, hes always rocking, always smiling. And that damn voice on top of it all! He moves like a butterfly and stings like a bee, that Matthew.
Terry Divelbliss Keys and Trumpet
Brass and ivory in one solid dude. Whether its screaming Motown horn charts, smoky Hammond B3, funky clavinet, or straight-up piano, Terry has it down. The newest member, Terry brings a youthful spirit, stunning good looks, and a love for vintage Oldsmobiles. Four on the floor, but Terry wants more!
Greg Stegman Sax, Vocals
Stegie turns a sax into a hurricane. A furious onslaught of blue notes and bent phrases. Stegie is cut from the cloth of Clarence and the Motown and Stax legends. His solos are things of beauty -- well-structured, lyrical, and soulful. Stegie makes great jerky, and he really wants to play some Pink Floyd.
It isnt unusual for artists to glean inspiration from emotional upheaval, transcending pain through a kind of mental osmosis, so that the turmoil in their lives provides the fuel for their artistic fire. Only some, however, lay bare the open nerves of their suffering, inviting the listener to experience raw emotion with them, in real time. By exposing vulnerabilities within themselves so fragile that their music itself somehow embodies their own personal discomfort, they create an auditory experience verging on total catharsis, for artist and audience alike. Emma Ruth Rundle is just such a musician. Her second solo album, Marked for Death, mines feelings of loss, defeat, heartache and self-destructiveness to emerge with the most honest and compelling accomplishment of an already prolific career.
A more adventurous production than 2014s solo debut Some Heavy Ocean, the eight compositions on Marked for Death, helmed by engineer/co-producer Sonny DiPerri, emphasize dynamics and vocal melodies, variable tuning, and a dense layering and texturing of guitars. Nevertheless, fear and self-doubt linger in the shadows of Rundles mind, providing an incessant counterpoint to her ambitious talent and sultry, albeit de-emphasized, allure. As she explains, There is intentionally nothing to hide behind here, but at the same time Im terrified of revealing myself. Clarifying this she continues, The subject matter is largely about being defeated and shrunken into the base human themes of love and loss. Its a far cry from high art. Its very much from the dirt. Exemplified by the candid, unglamorous cover portrait, the album makes a persuasive argument for its creators utter helplessness in the shadow of defeat. And though a potent dose of dark, hypnotic rock every bit as satisfying as her work with Marriages and Red Sparowes, Marked for Deaths most resonant element is Rundle herself, settling-in to her role as singer/songwriter. Her rich voice, alternately jostled and cradled by the sounds conjured from her guitar, feels more present, perhaps even more deliberate, than ever before. Written over the space of a few months holed-up at The Farm, Sargent Houses desert outpost/recording studio outside Los Angeles, the songs on Marked for Death reflect the investigative, occasionally improvised nature of writing and, eventually, recording at the site. The studios dirty electricity necessitated going direct for most of the guitar tracks. Because of the direct input set up, Rundle explains, I had a lot more time to get very textural with the electric guitars, so there are many layers. With unlimited time and space, discovery itself became part of the songwriting process.
Opening track Marked for Death stirs quietly at first. Its past-tense treatise on doomed love and the despair of abandonment soon blooms, however, into a cascading murmuration of guitar and strings, its towering, epic presence characteristic of much of Rundles work. Protection, perhaps not coincidentally, constructs a wall of volume around itself. The flashes of Rundles vulnerability and haunting melody of her vocals in turn spark great washes of guitar noise that mushroom into existence like some sonic thunderhead. Dusted with acoustic guitars, Medusa spins a churning landscape of reverb and shadow, a broad canvas for the impassioned brushstrokes of her voice, while Hand of God, a resolute contemplation on living with shame, incorporates a sleepy kind of blues that flickers momentarily before fading away. Heaven and So, Come grapple with themes of suffering and yearning for the past, transforming from furtive whispers into overdriven burners, and back again. What begins as the albums most restrained moment, Furious Angel, withers only momentarily from the specter of dying love, the quickening floor toms - present across much of the record - eventually splashing their way through a layer of crystalline cymbals. The dark thrum of stripped-down closing track Real Big Sky is accompanied by one of Rundles most bittersweet lyrics, and a breathtaking performance. The only song on the album included in its original demo form, its unexpected resolve delivers an abrupt, sobering finish.
Complemented by the timeless, cinematic lens of the albums production, Marked for Death finds Emma Ruth Rundle emerging as a performer of naked intensity. She shapes vast, evocative landscapes of sound, combining them with lyrics of devastating candor. Self-determination and resiliency, disguised in this case as coming to terms with overwhelming defeat, are key aspects of her personality. Transforming pain into works of great beauty makes her the compelling artist she is.
"I hit a wall," says Will Hoge. "I was doing the best touring of my career and I had a great, steady gig writing songs, but I was falling out of love with being in a band. I didn't have a good answer when I asked myself, Why am I still doing this?' So I walked away. I had to figure out what was next."
For Hoge, what came next was a quest to reclaim the joy and the magic that had drawn him to music in the first place. He let his band go and hit the road for roughly a year of solo shows, crisscrossing the country by himself with just a guitar and a keyboard. He felt rejuvenated by the freedom and began writing material that reenergized him, that made him feel like a kid falling in love with rock and roll all over again. Those songs ignited a dormant flame somewhere deep within Hoge's soul, and now they form the bulk of Anchors, his strongest and most nuanced album to date.
"All the solo work made me fall back in love with the process and really inspired me from a writing perspective," says Hoge. "I was so excited when it was time to record this album because I didn't have any parameters that I had to stay inside anymore. I could reach out to anyone I wanted and put together a band that could play these songs in a way that just felt cool and natural, like we used to do in my garage back when I was a teenager."
Hoge's teenage garage band years were spent in Franklin, TN, but his music career didn't begin in earnest until he moved roughly twenty miles up the road to Nashville. Starting with the release of his acclaimed 2001 debut, Carousel, Hoge established himself as a masterful songwriter and performer as well as a critical favorite, with Rolling Stone comparing him to Bob Seger and John Mellencamp and NPR praising his "sharp, smart, passionate rock n' roll that seems to exist out of time." Hoge built up a loyal fanbase the old fashioned way, maintaining a steady studio output and a relentless touring schedule of more than 200 shows a year, including bills with the likes of My Morning Jacket, the Black Crowes, and Drive-By Truckers, in addition to festival slots from Bonnaroo to Austin City Limits.
Then, in 2012, Hoge found himself suddenly thrust into the spotlight when the Eli Young Band hit #1 on the Billboard Country chart with their recording of his song "Even If It Breaks Your Heart." The single went Platinum, earning Hoge coveted nominations at the CMA, ACM, and GRAMMY Awards, where the track was up for Country Song of the Year. The wider world took notice of what those paying attention to Hoge had known for a decade, and soon he was performing everywhere from the Grand Ole Opry to The Late Show with David Letterman, his music was soundtracking a high-profile Chevy truck campaign, and he'd signed a major publishing deal.
"All of the sudden, people were coming and offering me money to be a songwriter," reflects Hoge. "I hadn't had a regular paycheck in fifteen years at that point, and suddenly I was a paid songwriter.' It was an incredible opportunity, and I did that for four years while I continued to tour and make my own records. I learned a lot of valuable things and wrote some songs that I really loved, but it was a very different kind of writing. I felt like I was working for somebody else."
So, as he's always done throughout his career, Hoge took a gamble on himself and left behind the security and comfort of the familiar in order to pursue the kind of art that moved and inspired him. The result is Anchors, an album that blends elements of literate folk, vintage country, and heartland rock into a passionate, genre-busting masterpiece. Recorded with an all-star band comprised of drummer Jerry Roe (Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Darius Rucker), bassist Dominic Davis (Jack White, Wanda Jackson), and guitarists Brad Rice (Son Volt, Ryan Adams) and Thom Donovan (Lapush, Ruby Amanfu), the album is a prime showcase for Hoge's soaring, gritty vocals, as well as his remarkable gift for crafting complex characters with real emotional depth and plainspoken profundity.
"There's some seeds you plant that never grow," Hoge sings on loping album opener "The Reckoning." It's a beautiful, bittersweet introduction to a record that grapples with the messy challenges of adulthood and takes an unflinching look at the ways in which we persevere (or don't) through hard times. On "This Grand Charade," Hoge paints a portrait of a crumbling marriage going through the motions to keep up appearances, while "Angel's Wings" channels classic country in the search for one more chance to turn things around, and the spare, piano-driven "Cold Night In Santa Fe" laments that "it ain't the knowing that it's over / it's the watching it slip away" that causes the most pain.
Hoge's a happily married man with two kids of his own these days, though, so he knows that time doesn't inherently doom all lovers. "Ain't nothing we can't fix / Ain't no broken trust / Ain't no great divide between the two of us " he sings in harmony with special guest Sheryl Crow on "Little Bit Of Rust.
"I'd always wanted a female vocal for this song because I felt like the we' in the chorus is important," says Hoge. "Nobody fixes a relationship on their own. I felt like it deserved this strong female presence, and Sheryl's just one of the greatest singers I've ever heard. Having her on the track breathed a whole new life into the song, and it's one of my favorite things I've ever done."
While the album has its fair share of heavy moments, Hoge isn't afraid to mine the more optimistic and playful veins of his creativity, too. He lets his mischievous side shine on the lustful "This Ain't An Original Sin," gets romantic on the Traveling Wilburys-esque "Baby's Eyes" (a co-write with Brendan Benson), and reconnects with the innocence and excitement of his early days on "Seventeen," a track inspired by his own kids' exploits in the garage.
"My boys are six and ten, and they started a band with their friend," explains Hoge. "I was sitting around one day during my period of deep doubt, and then I heard these three pre-teens in my damn garage thinking they can save the world with rock and roll. It was amazing. All of the sudden you remember the feeling of going to band practice and playing with your friends and making sure that you've got your jean jacket on just right so you can talk to the girl at the movie theater and try to get her to come to your show. You remember you do it because you love it and it feels right."
That's the notion that carries album closer "Young As We Will Ever Be" into the sunset. It's an ode to the present, to living in the moment, to seeing the splendor in the right now, challenging as it may be. It's easy to get jaded or lose inspiration in this world when the going gets tough, and it's even easier to take the good times for granted, only recognizing them for what they are once they're in the rearview mirror. If there's one takeaway from Anchors, though, it's that hard times come and hard times go, but love and art can sustain you through both if you let them. The road you end up on and the stops you make along the way may not be the ones you'd always imagined, but true happiness belongs to those who learn to find fulfillment in the journey rather than the destination.
"Am I as far as I want to go?" Hoge asks himself out loud. "No. Am I further than I ever imagined being at seventeen? Fuck yeah. There's some beauty in that."
Averaging 250 shows per year, 10 countries, at least 10,000 hours playing music, countless satisfied fans, and about 1 million beers kicked, the past decade has been nothing short of an odyssey for Andy Frasco & The U.N.
In 2016, this wild musical journey culminated with a three-hour headlining set in front of 15,000 people at Jazz & Blues Festival in Bamberg, Germany. The evening marked a handful of firsts. It would be the first time the band performed its entire catalog during one show, and it would be recorded for their first-ever live CD/DVD2017s Songs from the Road: Live in Bamberg. In many ways, Andy had been working towards this evening since he quit his record label job at 19, bought a van with his remaining Bar Mitzvah money, hit the road, and never looked back
I always wanted to do a live album, he exclaims. I didnt want to play some cliché venue though. When I started booking shows for the band in Europe, Bamberg was actually the first place that threw us a bone. We decided to take over this town, throw a block party, showcase everything weve done, and see if anyone shows up. All of a sudden, the whole town is there. In this last decade, Ive played every dive bar you can imagine. It was like we finally manifested all of the dreams Ive had for my entire life.
Songs from the Road captures the magic inherent in an Andy Frasco show. Throughout the set, the chemistry between the musicians and sonic unpredictability power every second. Among many standouts, the group slowed down Main Squeeze from 2014s Half A Man into a sultry and seductive Soul Version highlighted by Andys bluesy delivery, hulking keys, and a virtuoso saxophone solo.
That was the first song I ever wrote as a kid, he recalls. It started as a slow ballad, but we sped it up over the years for festivals. We went back to the original incarnation here.
Elsewhere, the group locks into a show-stopping 20-minute jam during Struggle spiraling into drum and guitar battles. Meanwhile, Smoking Dope n Rock n Roll and Stop Fucking Around incite raucous and rowdy singalongs between crowd surfing to a barrel of wineyou have to see it to believe it. These moments hint at something much bigger for Andy though.
It made me like Im not just an entertainer, but Im becoming a musician, he admits. To see all of these Germans who barely speak English singing my songs made me feel like Im doing something bigger than me. I tell everyone, Whatevers going on in your life, dont worry about it. I dont care how broke or tired you are, lets just come together and celebrate life. If we can get the audience out of their heads for two or three hours, weve done our job to make this world happier.
Stirring up a simmering stew of soul, funk, rock, roots, Americana, and blues, Andy continues to musically intoxicate listeners worldwide. Releasing five independent full-length albums to date, the boys have shared the stage with everyone from Leon Russell, Dr. Dog, Joe Walsh, and Gary Clark, Jr. to Snoop Dog, Galactic, Pepper, Foreigner and more. A festival favorite, theyve ignited Firefly, SXSW, Wakarusa, Electric Forest, Backwoods Music Festival, Phases of the Moon, and beyond. Along the way, they earned acclaim from Relix, Pollstar, Live for Live Music, SoundFuse, and others in between cracking 2 million cumulative Spotify streams.
As they begin recording album number six with producer David Schools of Widespread Panic, Songs from the Road confidently opens up the next chapter of Andy Frasco & The U.N.
At the end of the day, I want people to know were a band that can entertain, but we write good songs, he leaves off. We have fun, but we take this super seriously. Weve dedicated our lives to this. This is my life destiny to make everyone feel good. Thats my job on this planet for the next thirty or one-hundred years that Im alive. Its what I plan on doing.
Groovin' with the Grove 2 is a weekend music, arts, and camping festival hosted by West Virginia Appalachian jam /rock band Fletcher's Grove. The event is September 28th & 29th at King Knob Presents in Philippi, WV. Tickets and info can be found at GroovinWV.com
Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter Jesse Denaro is getting out of his own head with his forthcoming album, "One Day I Will Be Important." After years of trying to write music under the intense pressure that often accompanies attempts to emulate the artistic practices of others, the new record sees Denaro making the music he enjoys because that's what he loves to do.
Originally from New York, Denaro started touring after graduating from college. He later moved to Pittsburgh where he signed to The Vault Records in 2017. Denaro's authenticity shines through in his tuneful observations of good things falling apart in a mature endeavor thats sure to foster strong connections with listeners.
It's an itch for genuine, naïve love that begs to be scratched and a reminder that its possible to make art thats optimistic even in despondence. He is versatile performer, singer, songwriter, engineer and producer his work includes his self-produced album and Chris Jamison of NBC's The Voice, both on The Vault Records's label.
Texas genre-bending rock n roller Israel Nash presents his latest long play, Lifted. It is a modern day hippie-spiritual, a tonic for those needing to put aside the mess of the daily grind. With luscious beds of strings, horns and well adorned towering walls of sound, Lifted finds Nash continuing his tradition of creating a sonic experience of feeling that is at once both vast and intimate - soaring and untamed at times, placid and sincerely personal at others.
Originally from the Ozarks of Missouri, Israel Nash has made his home in Dripping Springs, Texas for the greater part of a decade. There, on his ranch with sweeping views of the Texas Hill Country, the tall, hirsute mountain man
built his own studio; a Quonset hut structure hes dubbed Plum Creek Sound. The studio became a sanctuary, a creative outlet where Nash reached a meditative state of escapism, which ultimately became the inspiration behind Lifted. The creative process of writing, recording and producing Lifted allowed Nash to leave his own downhearted feelings about the political landscape of the recent elections and the deeper queries of purpose and life that supersede the material world. Nash wrote and recorded Lifted with the intention of achieving a sonic experience that will elevate the listener - that the feeling of peace, love and happiness which saturates the words and music can provide the same escape he achieved while creating the LP.
Being able to finally use Plum Creek Sound to its utmost, Nash incorporated found sounds and field recordings from his Texas ranch to create a setting of the sounds that represent his Hill Country life. Drums played in rain collection tanks, water rushing against the limestone, frogs and crickets in their habitats, and even a curious, yet guarded rattlesnake, all appear throughout the record. Inspired by methods pioneered by John Cage, Nash also randomized sounds and music and rearranged them according to the I Ching (The Book of Changes). Utilizing these recording and tracking techniques help create a sonic and very present picture of Nashs home and his life. Accompanied by his longtime band, with arrangements by Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev, Midlake), horns by members of Austins cumbia/funk compadres Grupo Fantasma, and strings from Kelsey Wilson and Sadie Wolf of indie pops Wild Child, Nash, alongside co- producer and engineer Ted Young (Kurt Vile, The Rolling Stones), presents an album that soars as a masterwork of American roots songs, meticulously crafted and gently sprinkled with life meaning and multi-hued rock and psychedelia.
Its all about finding, searching for little sparks of inspiration. It may be a sound, a groove, a color, or even an object. Old things are inspiring. Whatever it is, when you find it, it spreads like
a conflagration that is out of your control. It doesnt matter if youre making a record or living your life, find these inspirations with a vigil eye and watch them change both you and your world.
Lifted opens with an extended instrumental introduction, preparing the listener to get comfortable and settle in for the journey ahead, before blossoming into Rolling On. Its a manifesto, a hearty breath of rock goodness, clean air for all that follows. A sing-along anthem of urgency, encouraging one to let go of yesterday and spring from the traps of worry in order to move onward and upward - rolling on, right here and right now.
It was a simple message to myself, to not get stuck in thinking and the past. Its too easy for us to worry about pretty much everything. I had been down and low for a bit and really had to sing and write those feelings away, give them to the moment and find a better self in the end.
What follows is an Americana-bred opus without equal. From the familial harmonies of Sweet Springs, recalling the Beach Boys at their most joyous (almost all performed by Nash himself), to the country rock riffage of Lucky Ones and SpiritFalls conjuring up that much needed healing, to the album ending Golden Fleeces, a sunshine laden song offering up sweet relief from those troubles and tying the preceding up with a sense of lightness and much needed joy.
By immersing oneself in Lifted, one can see Nash succeeds in a way thats exquisite yet spiritually satisfying. Nash welcomes you to join him on his uplifting path - one hes taken throughout his career, now continuing on a higher, imaginative plane. May your ears be blessed and may your soul be lifted.
Four Ohio Valley songwriters share their songs, their stories and their unique backgrounds along the Ohio River.
"Todd belongs in the company of Peter Stampfel, Todd Snider and Paul Thorn with Roger Miller winking from beyond."
-Larry Groce, Mountain Stage Host
A main stage performer at Jamboree in the Hills for the past decade and former Gathering Field drummer, Joe's songs can be heard in Duck Dynasty, The Wahlburgers and other TV outlets.
Michael's contemplative song-explorations are enriched by his training as a theologian.
Tom's music makes apparent distinction between the distant idealization of the working man and the real life of the working man; the distinction between country- and coal country."
If The Stray Birds were going to make another album, there was only one way it would happen: together. The idea was at once a challenge, an ultimatum, and a survival mechanism for a band at the crossroads. Write the record collaboratively, or dont write it at all. The result is Let It Pass, their fourth album and most powerful, personal, and cathartic collection yet. The record charts the trios tumultuous emotional journey in the years since the release of their acclaimed 2016 album Magic Fire, a period which saw de Vitry and fiddler/guitarist/mandolinist/vocalist Oliver Craven end their romantic relationship while choosing to continue their musical one. Along with bassist/banjoist/vocalist Charlie Muench, the pair had to face down an uncertain future and reevaluate what it meant to create art together.
From the lilting In My Time and gentle Light As A Fire to the gritty Miles and Miles and sentimental If Time Is Not Enough, change and continuation are frequent themes on the album, but each track boils down in its own way to an act of growth and healing. Album opener The Bridge says it all, with the whole band joining in ecstatic three-part harmony to sing, Meet me on the bridge / We can watch the water / Meet me on the bridge / Water running under. Like so much of the album, its a cry for empathy and compromise that works on a variety of levels: personal, professional, political. The band takes an unflinching look in the mirror with this record, but its not hard to zoom out and hear the parallels here with a divided nation similarly navigating its way through a metaphorical maelstrom.
Originally hailing from Lancaster, PA, The Stray Birds first broke out in 2012 with their self-titled/self-released debut, which landed among NPR's Top Ten Folk/Americana Albums of the Year and earned the trio major festival performances everywhere from MerleFest to Scotland's Celtic Connections. They followed it up in 2014 with Best Medicine, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart, and returned two years later with the Larry Campbell-produced Magic Fire, which hit #1 and earned an avalanche of critical praise. NPR hailed the bands warm harmonies and pristine playing, while Pop Matters heralded the album as an essential step forward, and Folk Alley called it masterfully crafted.
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