At the very least, Bluegrass has at least two distinct types: Traditional and New Grass. Traditional Bluegrass might best be defined as anything in the broader genre that Bill Monroe would play, should he be resurrected. Mr. Monroe WAS bluegrass from the very beginning, and fittingly named his band The Bluegrass Boys. If it sounded like Monroe's music, it was bluegrass; if not, it prompted a short debate and then was denied. For most of his life he was the only arbiter, not only of sound but also style. Absent of long hair or beards with the presence of guitar, upright bass, banjo, mandolin and fiddle. On the other hand, he was proud of the band members he nurtured and taught. If they innovated, he approved.
There is no question that Sideline is Trad Bluegrass, its members drawn from bluegrass bands like IIIrd Time Out, Lonesome River Band and Cherryholmes, to name a few. It has been an incubator for talent and more than the sum of its original parts when awards are handed out. Founders Steve Dilling (banjo), Skip Cherryholmes (guitar, mandolin) and Jason Moore (upright bass) have been the best at their instruments and have been revered throughout their careers. Unfortunately, Moore was stricken by a fatal heart attack last November at the age 47, while boarding their tour bus after a concert.
When Mr. Bill Monroe does rise again to sing and chip at his mandolin, he and his fellow bandmates will be the next set of Boys, succeeding Flatt and Scruggs, Vassar Clements, Peter Rowan, Roland White, Richard Greene, Del McCoury and others. Maybe Fantastic Negrito will be with them, tagging along, like Jerry Garcia did, tolerated in spite of his style.
Pre Show music by Pappy from the CAUSE Video
HONEY ISLAND SWAMP BAND
While Hurricane Katrina was deadly and devastating to New Orleans and the surrounding Mississippi Delta, at least one good thing came of it. After the levees broke, four musicians who had been evacuated from the Crescent City encountered each other at the Boom Boom Room (John Lee Hooker’s club in San Francisco) and decided to form the Honey Island Swamp Band.
Almost immediately they began a Sunday night residency at the club and several months later recorded their first album. The die was cast. They’ve been together ever since, moving back to the swampland of Louisiana, adding Trevor Brooks on Hammond B-3 organ, a wellspring instrument for rock, R&B and the blues. His collaboration with original members Chris Mule (guitar, resonator and vocals), Aaron Wilkinson (mandolin, guitar, harmonica and vocals), Sam Price (bass and vocals), and Garland Paul (drums and vocals) combine into a regular étouffée of Southern rock, with hints of Little Feat, Dr. John, The Allman Brothers and Levon Helm’s The Band, to name few. Let’s have a hurricane party -- without the hurricane!
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AC-DC ~Blue Oyster Cult ~ Cinderella ~ Dokken ~ Europe ~ Foreigner ~ Guns n’ Roses ~ Husker Du ~ Iron Maiden ~ Journey ~ Kansas ~ Led Zeppelin ~ Motorhead ~ Night Ranger ~ Overkill ~ Poison ~ Queen ~ Rush ~ Styx ~ Thin Lizzy ~ Uriah Heep ~ Van Halen ~ Whitesnake ~ X ~ Yes ~ ZZ Top ~
Just my own alphabetical sampling of Arena Rock bands, an expansive rock genre characterized by big guitars, big drums, big bass and big hair. Played in no venue smaller than an arena by bands who you would never fall asleep to, unless they played an odd ballad out of irony.
Not highbrow; not at all. But where would we be without it? We would have no teen anthems, no stubborn earworms, no opportunity to clear our lungs, expelling the lyrics of lost love in inexplicable youthspeak.
Rock, hard and heavy enough to fill an arena, a stadium, or Woodstock must be heard. So, we beg in advance to those in residences across the railroad tracks to refrain from calling the noise police.
Chain Reaction doesn’t have the big hair...not anymore. But they do have the big voice of Brian Cole in tribute to all those who sang at your cornfield keggers. They are a compendium of the classic rock of your youth, even if you’re old enough to be someone’s grandfather.
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Last summer we received one of those calls we dread; our band for the evening couldn’t make it, and we had only hours to book a replacement. Gene dove into his seemingly endless wallet of possibilities and found Billy Price, a great Pittsburgh guy who we had never booked before.
He called his band into action at short notice, arrived on time for soundcheck, regaled us with stories, and made himself at home! His keyboard player might have even shown up anyway, because he and his wife are SummerSounds fans when Billy doesn’t have a Friday performance. A great show was enjoyed by all, from one of the greatest of our PGH artists.
Back in the late 60’s when music was everything to me, word came down from State College of a band called the Rhythm Kings, a group of undergrads playing R&B against the tide so to speak. Instead of rock they played soul, with Billy Pollak on vocals. After receiving his degree, he somehow caught the attention of Roy Buchanan, hillbilly bluesman extraordinaire. Buchanan made Billy his lead singer and songwriter for 3 years of touring along with two albums, including a live album universally thought to be Buchanan’s best.
After splitting from Buchanan, who would not awaken from an overdose soon thereafter, Price, along with Glenn Pavone formed the Keystone Rhythm Band, the Charm City Band and the Billy Price Band, and would tour France with Fred Chappelier on their Night Work tour of Europe. By my count, he’s been a favorite performer of Picks-Burghers for over 50 years. I can’t wait to hear our announcer say, once again, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Billy Price!”
Pre Show music by Jason Gamle Video
ELTON JOHN TRIBUTE
Elton Rohn has grown to become the elite Elton John tribute of North America. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, they have headlined over 300 theatre and festival shows in North America... from California to New York, Las Vegas to Philly, Canada to Myrtle Beach. They were the only Elton John tribute asked to play at the Elton John convention in Las Vegas where they met Davey Johnstone, Elton’s long time guitarist and musical director, who said they were the best 70’s Elton John tribute in the world. And Nigel Olsson, Elton’s long time drummer, said “Elton has a twin!”
This is not an impersonator act. It’s like seeing another Elton John. The music is played 100% live. The musicianship is of the elite level, playing at SummerSounds as a seven piece band plus an 8 piece string section! The sequins will be there but no gimmicks; it’s a solid band. Check out the band’s website and YouTube videos and you’ll see just how great this show is.
Channeling Elton, Ron Camilleri has the voice, the piano, the look and the feel of a real Elton John performance. You’ll feel like you’re watching the real Elton John. The passion, energy and those incredible harmonies are all there, all live, and with the Westmoreland Symphony Strings. This band is the closest you’ll ever get to the 70’s sound of a real Elton John show in Westmoreland County,
Pre Show music by Henry Bachorski Video
You know our favorite backdrop, featuring all-manner of comic musicians, dancers, and drinkers; Superman, George Washington, and the Courthouse Dome? The one created by Brian McCall, our resident artist and major leaguer? The one that’s probably hanging behind Session Americana right now? Life imitating life, like a Session Americana concert, something happening in every corner.
Oh, to live in Cambridge, MA on Sunday nights, when the musicians are restless and on the prowl, feeling the need to jam, to play, relax, and get out of the house for a little beer. That’s how Session got started, at a place called Toad. Sound familiar?
A band forgot its gig and Ry Cavanaugh grabbed a table mic and a cocktail table, taped the mic down, called some other Sunday Nighters over, and a coterie of a band occurred. They huddled around the table/mic stand at the same level as their fellows, and passed around the lead vocals, their own songs, old favorites, sometimes seeming to write songs on the spot. The only rule was that the closer they were the better the vibe.
Most of their YouTube videos are in sepia tone, a harken back to simpler times, almost akin to Alan Lomax doing the Library of Congress recordings back in the depression. They are quite a show, with stringed instruments, harmonica, accordion and some kind of organ in a box. The cocktail table/mic stand has its own packing case. All in service to great fun, singing along, toe tapping to their song book.
Pre Show music by Alyssa Hankey Video
FOLK / NEW GRASS
Here we have a young boy, the son of musical genius on 3 instruments, who reluctantly picks up a mandolin in his teens, goes off to Harvard, not The Station Inn, and graduates Phi Beta Kappa, and decides that bluegrass is in his future after all.
Here we have a young girl, from Rochester, NY, hardly strictly bluegrass country, whose parents rent her a violin on her 8th birthday. She diligently and prodigiously immerses herself in classical violin and its orphan counterpart, fiddle. By age 12 she’s fronting her own bluegrass band, heads off to Belmont College, the Julliard of the South in Nashville, and is so busy doing session work, which is the true business of Nashville that her degree is an afterthought to what she was born to do.
They were bound to meet and become a couple; and a band. First with Mark O’Connor, the aforementioned bluegrass genius, who makes albums with Yo Yo Ma and the creme de la creme of Bluegrass. They were originally named The O’Connor Band, with a Grammy award for best album, first time out. Now known as O’Connor Lee, more New Grassy and Pop, more Allison Krause and a much dreamier Union Station.
Pre Show music by Jane West Video
JOSLYN & THE SWEET COMPRESSION
R & B
She and her band are ‘brick house tight... with skill and swagger” and “a refreshing take on neo-soul and funk, without the boundaries of clichés.” Soul Tracks calls Joslyn Hampton “a marvel... an instant classic,” and Billboard proclaims her “magical, that she gives everybody the joy.”
She and her step-father, Marty Charters, who has toured with Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and Van Morrison, joined forces to form The Sweet Compression to showcase her remarkable vocal and dancing talent. The band is a mix of youth and experience, groove and punch, energy and exuberance. You’ll be wanting to dance from the first bar of music. As a preview, take a look at the YouTube cartoon “What Did You Think Would Happen?” for the best cartoon depiction of a musical performance, right down to the syncopation of the musical action. Now that’s tight!
Pre Show music by Evan Dean Video
DEREK WOODS BAND
ROOTS / ROCK
The Derek Woods Band is an award winning, timeless and lyrically driven Americana rock band with a modern polished exterior. Well known in Western Pennsylvania, The Derek Woods Band was initially formed in Los Angeles in early 2012. With a core lineup of musicians, they were later transplanted to their home base in Pittsburgh, all the while gaining a coast-to-coast following. The band has been featured at many major events from the historic Woodstock 50th Anniversary festival at Yasgur's farm in New York to the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California.
Their latest full-length album, "Picture Yourself," is being released as single tracks with accompanying music videos throughout the year.
Pre Show music by Josh Starrett Video
THE SWEET LIZZY PROJECT
The diaspora of the Cuban people from their island nation just 90 miles from the U.S. is fascinating. From the early 60’s they had been under the yoke of Soviet-inspired totalitarianism. Thousands of Cubans fled to the Miami area, some on tiny boats and rafts. Generations have lived in poverty and mind control of their culture without contact with relatives or the ability to come here to visit. During the Obama years relations with Cuba were normalized, prompting the members of the Sweet Lizzy Project to defect in order to preserve their musical careers, before the door closed upon them… as it did a few years later.
Make no mistake; this isn’t Latinx music, which had a hard-enough time under the Castro's. This is Rock n’ Roll, American style, anthemic, vocal and guitar driven, heartfelt and revolutionary, at least in the eyes of Cuban dictators. Upon arrival in Little Havana, FL, they became a thing. Havana Time Machine, a show on PBS, featured their music and story, bringing them to the attention of Raul Malo, leader of the Mavericks. He brought them to Nashville to produce and to publicize and play out of the white-hot influences of Miami. Good for Gloria Estefan, not so good for Lizzy.
Lizzy is Lisset Diaz, vocalist and songwriter. She’s joined by dazzling lead guitarist, writer, producer Miguel Comas, keyboardist Wifredo Gatell, drummer Angel Millet and bassist Alejandro Gonzalez. They couldn’t sing or listen to the music they loved, so they brought it here for us all to enjoy. Their story, set to music, is pretty inspiring. So are they!
SOUL / ROCK
I barely recall Remember Jones. I remember we booked the act for Covid Year 2019. I remember that they couldn’t play 2020. And I remember that their front man isn’t Remember Jones, he’s Anthony D’Amato! And Remember Jones’ pronouns are he/they/yinz!
What do you do when you can’t remember? You visit YouTube, that’s what you do! After 5 hours on YouTube you realize you don’t remember why you’re there in the first place and you still don’t remember Jones or D’Amato! That’s why they call it "Y" Tube!
What I’ve learned, and hopefully retained, is that you can’t just go rooting around on the internet. Focus. Remember why you’re there.
This is a story about a guy from NYC who got together with a bunch of musician friends to form a lounge act, like they used to have in Vegas with Dino, Frank and Tony. This is the story of a band with xylophone and brass, playing the hits of Amy Whitehouse, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars, all with enough energy to put Red Bull to shame. It’s all orchestrated and fronted by Mr. Jones, the alter-ego of the aforesaid Mssr. D’Amato, who literally never stops, singing, dancing, posturing and camping it up enough to make you forget about Dino, Desi and Billy. Or Frank and Tony.
Pre Show music by Janson Joseph Video
The Nighthawks was an idea in Mark Wenner’s brain long before he was able to implement it. The musical product of pre-1958 radio in Washington, D.C., he didn’t know that there were rules against mixing blues, R&B, honky-tonk country, doo-wop, gospel and rockabilly into one delicious stew.
In 1972, Mark, only 23, returned to his home town after a New York City band apprenticeship, eager to start a real, work-every-night band based on American roots music. There he found a receptive local scene: D.C. has long been a musical melting pot of the kind that made Memphis ground-zero for the evolution of American music in the second half of the 20th Century. It just never had a Stax or Sun record label to tell the world. As the city exploded with an influx of people during the Great Depression and World War II, Washington became a hotbed of musical cross fertilization. When Bill Haley first brought his wacky Pennsylvania mix of hillbilly music and Rhythm and Blues to D.C. in 1952, people got it. When Link Wray poked holes in his amp’s speaker to create fuzz-tone, people got. And white kids like Mark found the Howard Theater, recently restored and part of the top tier of the historic Chitlin’ Circuit, was just a 25-cent bus ride away from the suburbs.
Founder, lead singer and harpmaster Mark Wenner is still at the helm, while drummer Mark Stutso, guitarist Dan Hovey and bassist Paul Pisciotta all share vocals and songwriting, making this lineup one of the strongest ever. Decades of gigs and countless fans have earned them the name “The Best Bar Band in The World.”
More than a bar band or blues band, as they’re frequently labeled, this is a band that played with Carl Perkins and Muddy Waters. In the tradition they set forth with their debut 1974 recording, their material respects the widest range of American Roots Music.
Pre Show music by Jimmy Adler Video
REELIN' IN THE YEARS
STEELY DAN TRIBUTE
When Black Friday comes on August 26 this year, SummerSounds will be awash with Steely Dan fans, Jazz fans, Rock fans, Fusion fans, and just plain old Fans. They’ll be here to hear and see Reelin’ In the Years, of Woodstock, NY and thereabouts, coming to prove that music is always more than the sum of its parts, especially where Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were concerned.
With Fagan and Becker it was all about the musicians, a myriad of them, from Chevy Chase, their first drummer in their Bard College band, who wasn’t serious enough (go figure) to Michael McDonald and Rick Marotta. Marotta's brother Jerry heads up this tribute. Oftentimes, lead guitarist Becker would give way to Skunk Baxter and others, because he didn’t have the right touch for the song. A session with the Dan often extended through numerous takes because of the constant perfectionism on the part of its leaders. In fact they’re making up now for lost touring time, often cancelling or aborting tours because the sound just didn’t measure up.
The musicians herein provide an impressive curriculum vitae, having played with Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello, Indigo Girls, Parliament-Funkadelic, The Proclaimers, Van Morrison, Spyro Gyra, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Buddy Rich, Slide Hampton, Little Feat and Boz Scaggs, most notably. Guest drummer Rick Marotta even played with Steely Dan!
You can choose between the Reelin’ thing and the real thing this summer; ours is much easier on your credit card account and promises almost as much richness and groove!
Pre Show music by The Bricks Video
THE SEA, THE SEA
INDIE FOLK / POP
Chuck E. Costa and Mira Costa are an Upstate New York based indie folk-pop duo featuring what NPR’s All Songs Considered calls “excellent harmonies” and Huffington Post calls “Two of the loveliest male-female voices you might ever hear this or any other year.”
The Sea The Sea are defined by their infallible vocal harmonies and their unconventional song arrangements. They’re a pop band only in their melodic infectiousness. Otherwise, they are at their best when subverting conventions.
The group’s 2020 release, Stumbling Home, dubbed “otherworldly” by Rolling Stone, marks the duo’s third full-length album and the duo’s first primary recording.
Previous releases from The Sea The Sea have been praised by outlets including NPR, American Songwriter, and No Depression, and the animated video for their song "Waiting" sparked viral interest from Buzzfeed and Pitchfork, as well as inclusion at the international TED 2015 conference. The band has garnered features across all music platforms including Apple Music “Best of the Week” and “A-List Singer/Songwriter,” gathering 20+ million streams on Spotify to-date. Live performance broadcast appearances of The Sea The Sea include Mountain Stage, which said they are "ready to take their place among the best young male/female duos now performing.”
Pre Show music by Cathy Jane Video
These were our 2021 guests
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The Steepwater Band
Who wants some Rock 'n' Roll? A good old guitar-drenched evocation of the plethora period of real rock bands?
Are we all old enough to have been to a real record store, National Record Mart, Sam Goody, or your local indie store (where value was in the albums you couldn't find at NRM and people like John Cusack and Jack Black told you what really mattered)? You could waste a day and all of your money there, flipping through racks of LPs.
Aerosmith, Bad Company, The Clash, Derek and the Dominoes, on through an alphabet and more of guitar driven bands. When it was SWB's turn, they wrote and played and produced worthy music, touring, persevering, and now, they'll do the same for us.
They may not be not renowned enough to have cover bands stand in line to play The Palace every season, but they are a damn good rock band fronted by two vintage lead guitarists playing now-vintage Les Pauls and Fender Strats. Here's to some genuine, hard-touring, damn good rock.
Pre-show music by Steve Hawk
Shaun Martin & Band
When Shaun Martin's agent got in touch with me about booking him at SummerSounds, he only had to say two words to get my attention — Snarky Puppy!
The Michael League–led best jazz band on the planet, and, except maybe on Tatooine, the best jazz band in the Universe, includes a preeminent keyboardist, one Shaun Martin, amongst that spectacular amalgamated collective. We were on!
Martin has quite the musical resume. At 4, he was already exhibiting real abilities on piano and drums, and was sent off for lessons with Dallas music teacher Carolyn Campbell, who taught him to read and write music!
His first gig, at age 5, was at church, on organ and piano. At the ripe old age of 15 he joined God's Property, a gospel jazz band and choir that often performed in aid of gospel performer Kirk Franklin. It wasn't long before Franklin took God's Property unto himself, hiring Shaun on to tour with him.
That childhood led Martin to North Texas State University’s jazz program, and League and Snarky Puppy. He continues among the Puppies to this day, when his and their touring allow.
More and more, Martin has taken on the record productions for Franklin, Erykah Badu, Timbaland, The Weeknd, and Shaun Martin Three-O, with Mike "Blacque Dynamite" on drums/percussion and Matt Ramsey on bass, winning seven Grammy awards so far.
Contrary to opinion, Jazz is not dead, sometimes you just need to smarten up your ears to listen.
Pre-show music by Aubrey Burchell Duo
Teddy Thompson & Jenni Muldaur
A Tribute to the Duets of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton
I've been a fan of Richard Thompson since Fairport Convention, the first step away from pure, unadulterated old British folk, and then plain old Richard Thompson, black beret wearing guitar god, and lyricist, one time hubby of Linda, and Dad to Teddy. Among the purists, he's Brit alt-folk royalty, for sure!
How could a similar ilk have missed the Muldaurs, Geoff and Maria? They were Jim Kweskin's Jug Band, jug and all; singers of “Midnight @ the Oasis,” paean to camels and water where there shouldn't be; and parents of Jenni, whose first and last album was released while still a teen. Among Mountain Music mavens, their majesties!
Teddy Thompson has been a bit of a sneak attack, and Jenni Muldaur, totally undercover. While Teddy’s first 2 albums were nice enough for “Jrs,” (see: Harper Simon, Julian Lennon, Chaz Bono) it was his third, Up Front and Down Low, a mix of country covers and Teddy country, that revealed his true calling and metier, Pub Country, and the emulation of American country stars in duet. Holding his torch and twanging with Jenni, they will begin their project with Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton (how Dolly gets second billing belies logic), to be followed by George Jones and Tammy Wynette, and Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn. I've heard the duets, they're great, and that's why it's called The Golden Age of Country!
John Papa Gros
If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, NOLA to the uninitiated, you’ve come home with the same conclusion I have: it's like having been to another country. It's got its own dialect, its own cuisine, and its own vibe. It's even got its own music! Cajun, jazz, zydeco, R&B, second line, blues, rock! You can listen to it straight or in a great big pot of gumbo! And always the keyboard, stirring it all. (BTW, the best gumbo I ever had was in the NOLA zoo!)
John Gros, “Papa,” was born there, grew up there, primarily learning to play the piano and organ and synth, and he swears he'll die there. He, and a lot of other people almost did, die that is, during Hurricane Katrina, and since then Papa has made it his sub-contract to convey the love he holds for his hometown.
He also loves his late, for the most part, fellow pianists and organists — Art Neville, Professor Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith, Dr. John — who taught him a lot, put him in their bands, and hailed him when he started his own bands, Papa Grows Funk and his recent solo effort.
Remember, Papa Gros comes from the town that beat Katrina; the town where they just might play “When the Saints Go Marching in” at your funeral second line. What do you think will happen when he comes to SummerSounds?
Pre-show music by Dave Distefano
Chicago the band was originally Chicago Transit Authority, CTA, short-lived because of threatened litigation from the actual transit authority. But what could they do if Toronzo Cannon starts using their name? After all, he's part of the CTA, a bus driver who has done four, ten-hour shifts for years as his day job, to allow him to work at night as one of Chicago’s endless blues guitarists on the city’s Southside.
Cannon was born in 1968, on the Southside next to the Robert Taylor Homes housing projects. His "playground" was the sidewalk just outside Theresa's Lounge, an historic blues bar, where Junior Wells led the band on vocals and harmonica, and his successor was guitarist/singer Buddy Guy.
It took Toronzo until he was 22 to buy his first guitar, but he must have been a natural, because today he's one of the best, most innovative slingers the Windy City has to offer.
Pre-show music by Pierce Dipner
Have you ever sat down with a friend and struck up a sing-along of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes"? Of course you have, that's why you're here tonight!
Fifty-three years ago, at oni Mitchell's house in Laurel Canyon, David Crosby and Stephen Stills were having the professional equivalent of a sing-along when Graham Nash asked to join them on "You Don't Have To Cry." Nash brought the necessary high tenor to the harmonies, and Crosby, Stills and Nash were born. Not long thereafter, they plunked themselves on a couch in front of an empty house — photos were taken and their first album was released: a triumph of Super Groupdom and harmonies to rival the Beatles.
Right about that time, Mark Hudson and his brothers were forming as a band on a Saturday morning kids show, later taking over for The Smothers Brothers as a summer replacement. Two albums and a break up, and lo and behold, Mark Hudson had a new career as a producer, best buddy, and songwriting partner to Ringo Starr. Oh, and he grew a weird beard, multi-colored and multi-faceted.
Gary Burr took over for Vince Gill as frontman in Pure Prairie League, then he moved to Nashville, wrote songs for Juice Newton, Reba McEntire, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tim McGraw, Wynonna Judd, Kenny Rogers, Ringo, Carole King, and a duet for Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera, to name a few. He has won “songwriter of the year” awards from ASCAP, Billboard, and NSA.
Mark Mirando, singer-songwriter, has been wingman and instrumentalist on various projects. Together they deliver an evening of fun and memory as Laurel Canyon. They promise they'll reach all the high notes for us as long as we carry the melodies. "Carry on," as CSNY would say!
Pre-show music by The Bricks
Banish any thoughts of Roy Orbison or The Everly Brothers when considering The Claudettes! Instead, think Johnny Iguana!
Think barrelhouse blues/jazz piano (Iguana’s forte), along with the occasional roaming, avant garde stylism, ever-changing, experimental probing in rock rhythms. Drummer Michael Caskey and Iguana have been joined at the hip throughout (Caskey being rock-steady in the face of Iguana’s adventurous nature). Through three albums and two lead vocalists, they’ve wandered in search of an identity.
Then along came Berit Ulseth, a vocal magician with true tone, timbre and talent — not following Iguana, not supporting him, but equal to the the task of each song, now through two albums (Dance Scandal at The Gymnasium and High Times in The Dark).
Obviously, Ulseth was found as the missing link between interesting and novel, and Iguana kept growing along with her. Add Zach Verdoorn on guitar and bass and you have a band. A band with a fertile musical basis and a singer of the worth of Rachel Price from Lake Street Dive. And just like LSD, Johnny, Berit and the boys are mesmerizing.
Pre-show music by Alec Henderson
Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute
In 4 short years, 4 guys from El Cerrito, California released 7 albums and charted about 25 songs on Billboard. In truth, John Fogerty wrote, sang, played most of the instruments on, and produced nearly all of the music of a Southern swamp rock band from Northern California, influencing the Allmans, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, to name a few.
Just as the Vietnam war was slowing, CCR had more musical influence on its demise than any other band, due to the band's popularity among servicemen.
While John Fogerty worked his fingers to the fretboard, his recording company, Fantasy Records, was robbing them blind with a notoriously onerous contract, and his bandmates either took advantage of him or didn't have the talent to help Fogerty other than to play at shows.
He left CCR and refused to play his own songs for decades so as to deny Fantasy licensing fees. And yet they've steadily continued to be popular without there being a Creedence to tour the songs. Forbes magazine just noted that they were still charting in Billboard's various Top Ten lists, including #1 in songs for "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?"
Green River, a Creedence tribute band with a prodigious repertoire of Fogerty masterpieces will finish our slightly truncated Summer/AutumnSounds with our favorite genre, a sing-along — if you can remember the words. Rest up your voices, there's nothing we can do for your memories
Pre-show music by Gashouse Annie
These were our 2019 guests
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There are less than 100 words, by our count, in the song “Seven Bridges Road” by Steve Young, yet it has its own Wikipedia article, and a damn good tribute band named after it, in the bargain. All because of the Eagles.
It seems that when these Eagles first began playing arenas and stadiums they warmed up vocally on the song a cappella, in a shower room, and then opened the show with it. Monkee Mike Nesmith took offense at them lifting the arrangement directly from Iain Matthew’s version that Nesmith produced and arranged.
Perhaps the Eagles take offense too, when 7 Bridges does their tribute to them, what with the arrangement by arrangement, song by song, note by note. Yet, our experience has been that works out just fine, because you get Eagles and nothing but Eagles with 7 Bridges … and without a hefty MasterCard invoice in July! You’re treated to that famous 4 and 5 part harmony, echoes of the late Glen Frey, and the very much alive Don Henley, Don Felder, Timothy B. Schmidt and Joe Walsh.
Just as Frey and Henley were the mainstay leaders of Eagles, so are Jason Manning and Keith Thoma the glue and talent that hold 7 Bridges together after many years of touring in tribute. As many of our 7 Bridges fans know, it’s worth sitting in the rain to see and hear our favorite tribute band.
Every show features one brilliant hit single after another. The perfect blend of songs, musicianship and onstage charisma has earned 7 Bridges their glowing reputation as one of the finest tribute acts in the country.
".....best EAGLES tribute on Earth" -ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE
And call yourself lucky, we get to enjoy 7 Bridges on the last tour of this great band in its present form. We’ll sure miss you guys!
Pre-show music by Sean Howard
Birds of Chicago
Ida Maeve, the daughter of Allison Russell and JT Nero, is five years old now. That tiny little baby girl, who graced us with her presence in the summer of 2014, has spent her tender years seeing the USA with her parents, formally known as Birds of Chicago, time well spent.
Since their first time in Greensburg the Birds have grown and flown, from CHI to the kingdom of Roots music, Nashville, TN, one of the hardest working towns in Americana.
You could tell, the very first time that they were here, that this band was headed up. They already had their own sound, a neat amalgamation of Allison’s sweet, soaring voice and JT’s rasping, from-the-throat soulfulness. When Allison treated us to an a cappella rendering of “Barley”everyone’s spine.
They’re tour-aholics, as most bands must be these days, in order to progress and survive. But they’ve also been sure to spend plenty of time in the studio, producing Real Midnight, American Flowers and Love In Wartime just in the last three years and attracting such producing talent as Joe Henry (Midnight) and Luther Dickinson (Wartime) to the tasks. Obviously, the presence of such stellar producers tells you all you need to know about the upward trajectory of their burgeoning success. They’ve recently returned the favor to Dickinson, appearing prominently on his latest release, “Sisters Of The Strawberry Moon.”
Some of our favorite shows with SummerSounds have been those with weather, 5000 people huddled under umbrellas for 7 Bridges, and hundreds jammed onstage with Birds Of Chicago to escape a sudden cloudburst, Allison Russell visiting each of us and singing us on home.
That is truly the power and the glory of music.
Pre-show music by Adam Fitz
Our concert series has always been known for its diversity in sound and the calculated risks we take with bands like Gjallarhorn, Cello Fury and Dr. Draw.
Those of our fans with discerning, eclectic taste let us know when we’ve intrigued and inspired them. And in our 20 years of music perhaps no band has struck a greater chord with fans that expect the unexpected than Toubab Krewe.
Begun by two teenagers from Asheville, NC, Justin Perkins and Drew Heller, Toubab (meaning stranger, foreigner, traveler in different African languages) came from Heller’s and Perkins’ burgeoning interest in West African rhythms and percussions. Their fascination led them to travel to Guinea and Mali, where Perkins was drawn to the kora, a 21-string harp-lute formed around a large gourd. He became a student of Lamine Soumano in Mali, and while traveling back and forth between Asheville and Bamaki, Mali, their band, Krewe, emerged, becoming regulars at Bonnarroo, High Sierra and other jam band sanctuaries.
This is music that requires attention and a suspension of some of the usual expectations of rock. Patience is essential, to absorb a slowly building melody, on kamelongoni or kora or guitar, while a rhythm of kit and percussion rolls, and pushes the melody on. Or, sometimes, the beat starts and leads the rest. There are echoes of African greats like Ali Farka Toure, or Seattle greats like Jimi Hendrix, that inform and instruct this Krewe. When you hear a band so well versed in what African music can do, you will understand what fascinated Paul Simon so much that he recorded “Graceland.”
Pre-show music by George Rouse & Rob Nichols
Sponsored by Rotary of Greensburg
Leonid & Friends
In the process of booking shows, Gene and I sometimes send each other performance videos of promising acts, discoveries, recommendations. YouTube has certainly made this task both easier and harder, given the sheer number of performers out there.
A couple years back, Gene sent me a video of a group of Russian musicians performing “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago, note for note, arrangement to arrangement, the only slight difference being the occasional slip towards a Russian accent. I thought “Wow, great group, too bad they’re in Moscow!” And Gene kept sending me these videos, one after the other, “Beginnings,” “Saturday In The Park,” … he just kept sending them.
Then, he went right around the bend and started talking about bringing them to Greensburg, to SummerSounds. Ten musicians, plus road crew and a manager? Not only did he fantasize to me about it, he sent emails to Leonid Vorobyev in Moscow, suggesting it to him. And Leonid thought it was a great idea too! (I thought I was in the middle of a Cold War espionage thriller, without a code word.)
While Gene and Leonid were becoming BFF’s on the ‘net, a phenomenon was occurring on YouTube: millions of views of these Russians doing Chicago’s songs, people dissecting their skills, their spot-on performances, and the fact that they were appreciably better than the current lineup on tour.
Suddenly, they were here for a short tour in January! The former USSR in the USA! Leonid & Friends sold out shows in LA, New York, and, yes, Chicago, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Chicago Transit Authority with “Chicagovich!,” an album of music from our seminal horn band.
And now they’re coming back. Back In The USSA, and to SummerSounds.
So, what are they like? Don’t just take my word for it; they’re marvelous, stupendous, and tremendous. They’re mostly conservatory trained players and they’re just plain killin’. YouTube and their website are full of videos. Focus on the live videos first, which are proof of their capabilities: not finely tuned studio magic, but the real thing. I recently spent a long evening watching, and before I knew it bedtime had come and gone. They’ve done what no other tribute band has ever done: faithfully present some of the best and most complex rock music of the 70’s, out of love and enthusiasm.
Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to experience Leonid and Friends!
Pre-show music by Henry Bachorski
Sponsored by Sendell Subaru
Swift Technique, Philadelphia’s fiery funk extravaganza, is sprinting into its tenth year at full speed! The band’s unique blend of funk, soul, rock, hip-hop and relentless showmanship has propelled the group into their most successful period to date. Featuring the powerhouse vocals of Chelsea ViaCava, bombastic horns, thunderous bass and drums, driving guitar and keys, and more dance moves than you can shake a booty at, Swift Technique knocked us out when they played SummerSounds in ’18. And with their recent appearance on the award-winning Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, the group is commanding national attention.
After forming in 2007, Swift Technique has steadily toured, performed, and recorded all over the country. The band’s sound has evolved at every step, with the members constantly pushing their performing and musical limits. They have shared the stage with all varieties of world-class acts including: The Meters, Wu-Tang Clan, Snarky Puppy, Fishbone, The Disco Biscuits, The Motet, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, and Sophistafunk. They have successfully played at top-tier venues in some of the most musically rich cities in the country such as New York, Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, Nashville, Chicago and of course, our hometown, Greensburg.
For Swift Technique, every show is the craziest basement party you’ve ever been to. Swift’s mission is to get you grooving, get you grinning, and fill you with the positive energy that the world so sorely needs. With the hype around Swift Technique building at lightning speed, look for these gritty groove masters to take large leaps forward in coming years! Especially after they get “the SummerSounds bump!”
Pre-show music by Brandon Crawford
An interesting aspect to booking bands is to discover their history, their genesis in the music business.
Kam Franklin started out as a backup singer for various bands of various genres, sampling most of what there was available while maintaining her day job as an analyst in an investment banking firm. She did her weekend and weeknight gigs with a swamp pop band, a Latin/Punk band, even gigging as a dub step DJ. Without much progress and injuries that prevented her from dancing, she quit The Biz.
True talent will always win out though. Former bandmates Pat Kelly, keys, and Adan Castenada, bass, called to tell her they needed her talent at the head of a ska, reggae, dub step band that had an impending wedding booking. Instead of following her instinct to go in the opposite direction, Kam showed up, and kept showing up until it became obvious that the band wasn’t ska/reggae/dub, but, rather, was R&B, the next iteration of Gulf Coast Soul, periodically a thing in the Houston area. Ska/reggae/dub makes some subtle and not so subtle appearances in their songs, but make no mistake, this is Kam Franklin’s band and they play Soul. Brothers Nick and Alex Zamora do the music and Kam does the lyrics, and it’s all great.
Like the late Sharon Jones and her Daptones, Fitz and His Tantrums, and our own Commonheart, this is the real downbeat, the vocal-centric, horn-driven Sound of America, circa 2019. SummerSounds shared them with the rest of the country in 2015, along with Newport Folk Festival goers, NPR Tiny Deskers, and David Letterman Late Nighters. Letterman looked genuinely stunned as he proclaimed “If you don’t do that, get out of the business!” after watching Kam and band totally rock his audience with “G’wan.”
They are back, they are better than ever, and they are all yours! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome The Suffers!
Pre-show music by Ryan Woods w/ Tim Woods
Sponsored by TribLive
Selwyn Birchwood Band
Mr. Birchwood first graced our stage in 2016 and rightfully earned his nomination as one of the best artists in the two decade history of SummerSounds. Why? Well, we sure can’t say it better than Rolling Stone magazine:
“A powerhouse player and emotive performer…his band, his material and both his skilled guitaring and soulful vocals are the essence of fully-formed. Birchwood is a major player. Highly recommended.”
Or The Washington Post:
“Selwyn Birchwood is an indelibly modern and original next-generation bluesman; his tough vocals, guitar and lap steel touch on classic Chicago blues, Southern soul and boogie.”
His fiery guitar and lap steel playing and his trailblazing, instantly memorable songs and gritty, unvarnished vocals make Selwyn Birchwood among the most extraordinary rising stars in the blues world. His deep familiarity with blues tradition allows him to bust the genre wide open, adding new sounds, colors and textures, all delivered with a tent revival preacher’s fervor and a natural storyteller’s charisma.
Birchwood’s meteoric rise from playing small Florida clubs to headlining international festival stages is nothing short of phenomenal, as he continues to set the contemporary blues world on fire. His 2014 debut album Don’t Call No Ambulance received the Blues Music Award and Living Blues Critics’ Award for Best Debut Album Of 2014, and he won the 2015 Blues Blast Rising Star Award. Selwyn and his band have since crossed the U.S. and Europe, delivering unforgettable live performances. With his new album, Pick Your Poison, Birchwood, along with his band—saxophonist Regi Oliver, bassist Huff Wright and drummer Courtney “Big Love” Girlie—takes a major step forward, crafting visionary blues for a new generation of forward-looking fans.
Birchwood, who attacks his guitar and lap steel with searing intensity writes and performs his cutting-edge songs that are made all the more impactful by his gruff vocals, his untamed musicianship and his band’s seemingly telepathic accompaniment. “I write and sing what I know,” says Birchwood, whose innovations are as expansive as his influences.
Thanks for sharing that knowledge with us Selwyn!
Pre-show music by Willow Hill
Sponsored by West Penn Power Co.
Man, she was amazing!” said Buddy Guy, after singing and playing with Vanessa Collier, on The Legendary Rhythm And Blues Cruise. So, let that roll around in your ear for a while!
Unfortunately, those who let a little precipitation get in the way of a great time missed a transcendent performance by the splendid Ms. Collier last year at SummerSounds. Those who didn’t mind getting a little moist enjoyed the closer view, onstage with her and the band and her grandmother and various other family and audience members. Not to be outdone by Buddy, our greatest living blues artist, my grandson proclaimed that he really liked her too. It was a great night to be a part of the show!
Still in her 20’s, Vanessa is not that far removed from captaining her high school basketball team yet she’s received honors at the renowned Berklee College of Music, toured the US and Europe with Joe Louis Walker, and impressed the aforesaid Mssr. Guy enough to earn the “Amazing!” (It’s true! Check out her website!)
The best thing is, you’d never know she “had” the blues if you hadn’t heard her yourself. She lit up our stage, and our backstage, last summer, despite the rainy weather. All of our male volunteers were smiling and all of our female volunteers were making a new friend. Our only disappointment was that we couldn’t share her with more of you.
She IS amazing, talented, soulful, full of energy and sass, audience focused … and did I say talented. She goes effortlessly from vocals to sax and back, plays a pretty mean laptop, and writes the hell out of a song.
So drag out your rain gear and bumbershoots just in case. Vanessa’s back, hopefully high and dry this time!
Pre-show music by Joe Scheller
Sponsored by UPMC Health Plan
SummerSounds votes Bach best in genre!
No, not Johann Sebastian, but David, and his Consort, a roving and revolving band of some of the best jazz musicians the metro DC area has to offer. He, the Consort, and his well-tempered keyboards, double-stacked, front and center, have graced the stage at SummerSounds a record four times now and surely earned his being voted our favorite smooth jazz artist in our two decade history.
We’re not the only ones who’ve named him a winner: he also won the 2016 Maryland Music Awards’ “Best Jazz Artist” honor. He’s received airplay at major smooth jazz stations worldwide and his recording Otherworld reached #28 in the CMJ National Jazz Chart and #4 in the Canadian Earshot National Jazz Chart.
Bach has received two Gold Records, one for a song he co-wrote for Crystal Waters and the Basement Boys and another with Thievery Corporation for keyboard work he did for Everything But The Girl.
With a natural onstage energy and charisma and an eclectic style that incorporates jazz, world music, rock, ambient music, European, Latin and classical influences, The David Bach Consorth has been a powerhouse performer for discerning live performance venues across Maryland, DC, Virginia and, of course, Pennsylvania. We have always found his refreshing and comfortable stylings to be the perfect accompaniment to a gathering in St. Clair Park with your family and friends.
Pre-show music by Luke Weltz
Sponsored by Redstone Highlands
When Kirk McLeod first formed his band, it didn’t have a bagpiper or fiddler or someone on the Uillean pipes. It wasn’t named after Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Wales, Cornwall, Galicia or The Isle Of Man
Soon enough, though, Kirk and Co. realized that the only true way to honor and emulate the music of the great Gaelic tribes was to blow up the bladder, finger the chanter, and let the drone go, producing the sound of the angels (at least to those full of Scotch or Irish whiskey, which would be any authentic 7 nationer.)
The band started out as Clan Na Gael, but were soon run off that name by an identically named band that didn’t last, but not before they were fully embraced by the vast majority of Scottish Game Goers, who still refer to them by their former name. The Scots were always stubborn that way.
A look at their busy touring schedule reveals their popularity among St. Patrick’s Day celebrants and Highland Gamesters, where the rock n’ skirl (the shrill sound made by the chanter pipe of a bagpipe) crowd hang out. They’ve been SummerSounds favorites since 2003, making them pioneers, but we’ve also featured The Tartan Terrors and Enter the Haggis, a clear indication that most of our ancestors spoke Gaelic as their first language. Some of our male attendees have been known to wear heavy woolen kilts in 90 degree heat and some of the women have been seen sporting “Official Kilt Inspector” badges.
Load up the Guiness and Dewars, the scones and haggis, don your tweeds or tartan and welcome back the descendants of the Seven Nations for a jolly auld time. Slainte!
Pre-show music by Same Moon
The Bumper Jacksons
Roots, jazz, country and swing. Stories and songs of Appalachia. Come on down to Greensburg town, take a seat and be woven into a musical story that never stops being told.
From the video of “I’ve Never Met A Stranger” it looks like the Jacksons have gained a drum kit, a whole convoy of 2,3 and 4-wheeled pedal vehicles, and a bunch of like-minded bicyclist fans/friends.
When last they visited, their rhythm section consisted of an upright bass and a suitcase filled with percussion-type items. This old, old, old-timey band (even live, they look like they’ve been filmed, or dressed, in sepia) was begun a while and a half back, by Jess Eliot Myhre, she of the woodwind and custom DeeLuxe washboard section, and Chris Ousley, who looks like he inherited Meththusaleh’s beard. They often toured aboard bikes in the beginning, whether to save money or to be very different from the average Ford Econoline-riding band, they won’t say.
They love SummerSounds, because it’s all-natural, outdoorsy, and a hop, skip and a jump from their stomping grounds in the Baltimore-DC metro area. They’ve kept asking, very politely “When can we return?” and we’ve finally said, quite gratefully, “It’s our anniversary, it’s time!”
Be assured, swing dancing will probably break out, just when the BJ’s bring to bear the knowledge glarnered from their access to a large trove of 78 rpm records.
Jess and Chris have recently added to their repertoire, with Monk, their first child, and are happier to play gigs closer to home, and also closer to Southwest Pennsylvania, where Chris attended college.
Oh, and that name, Bumper Jacksons? Named after Chris and Jess’ next door neighbors when they lived in New Orleans, and their black lab, Bumper, who attended Jess’ practice sessions in the backyard and accompanied her by howling. Would that our canine fans might join in the chorus!
Pre-show music by Corey Carrozza
At some point we all have to admit to aging, to the inevitable passage of time. All of us except Willie Nile, that is.
He’s probably old enough to be on the SummerSounds stage crew, but you couldn’t prove it by his present career arc, or his current resurgence of popularity.
This is a guy who moved from Buffalo to NYC in 1980, busked for a living on Bleecker Street for a few months, did his first gig with a band at the Bottom Line, signed with Arista records immediately thereafter, and opened for The Who on their concert tour a month later. After the release of his second album he went back to Buffalo to raise his family, but returned to New York and back to the Bottom Line.
Not so easy come - easy go this time around. He labored with his love, live performing, from then on, in bars, clubs and the occasional short tour, not a big hit this time around, but he made everybody’s Springsteen’s, Bono’s, Lou Reed’s, Pete Townshend’s, Little Steven Van Zandt’s list of severely underrated artists.
His most recent renaissance, among his many other renaissances, is in his recording career, where he’s released five new albums in the last five years. Based upon his visit here in 2015, he’s out-performing his septuagenerian contemporaries, with sustained energy and his love of every gig.
Our fave rocker for two-decades of SummerSounds, Willie Nile is here to stay!
Pre-show music by Alan Getto
Sponsored by Dollar Bank
The billowing curtains of sound from virtuoso indie-folk band S.H.E.L. will be both familiar and far-out to fans who remember S.H.E.L. from their 2016 visit to SummerSounds. The classically inspired mandolin, violin and piano will be there, along with the band’s glowing vocal harmonies. But we’ll also hear dense, ethereal textures that hover between the digital and the analog. Grooves are deeper, emboldened with electronic ambience and beat-boxing.
The Sisters S.H.E.L., Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza Holbrook, are artists, certainly musical artists, but also visual and design artists, producers of their own videos, designers of their own stage costumes and creators of their cover art. Sometimes their “other” art pulls them away from the stage, as it had for a time recently, but they’re back!
Siblings have a built-in advantage when it comes to vocal performances. The Everly Brothers, The Bee Gees (the brothers Gibb), and The Beach Boys (the brothers Wilson) all have demonstrated that, because their voices don’t wander too far from their siblings’, that harmonizing is almost effortless when you’ve all cried from the same cradle, so to speak. Squalling and harmonizing follow naturally. And when all is said and done, blood IS thicker and who loves you better than your sis or bro.
What a sweet and varied sound is S.H.E.L.. Of course, there are harmonies galore, but there are musical talents galore, too, honed by years and years of being the band for their singer/songwriter father, Andrew. Leadsinger Eva can play seemingly every instrument, or at least guitar, mandolin, banjo and cello; Sarah handles bass and fiddle; Liza handles the beat with beat box , djembe and anything else that holds the bottom tight; and Hannah does the keys, including some pretty neat accordion, in my opinion the unsung hero of Rock n’ Roll
Welcome back, S.H.E.L., to our Family Reunion!
Pre-show music by Jake Polcha
Sponsored by Seton Hill University
That's all folks.
Thanks to all 30,000 of our music loving friends for a great 22 years of SummerSounds!