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“Baby, you’re the one that I really miss…”

In my last post, I wrote about our Pittsburgh March Music Madness.  Now I can focus on whom is still in the contest and on whom, perhaps surprisingly, is not.

Joe Grushecky, The Clarks, and Donnie Iris seem to exemplify Pittsburgh’s hard-working, no-nonsense aesthetic but they lost out to political punks, neo-hippies, retro indie rockers, and indie prog rockers (Anti-Flag, Rusted Root, Modey Lemon, and Don Caballero).  Times change. 

Or perhaps times don’t change, as 1960s stars The Vogues (famed for their “You’re the One” song quoted above) squeezed by Wexford’s own Christina Aguilera in the voting. 

In the classical realm, I was a little disappointed that our imported musicians from Mexico and Iran, Cuarteto Latinoamericano and the adapter of Persian folk music, Reza Vali, lost out.  But our homegrown Chatham Baroque and River City Brass Band continue to perform and release acclaimed CDs.

As for Pittsburgh jazz, every one of the contestants is a titan.  (And I said “his” here because we intend to honor Pittsburgh’s great jazz women such as Mary Lou Williams [done], Maxine Sullivan [in progress], and more.)  But while Billy Strayhorn and Stanley Turrentine were great, Roger Humphries and Ahmad Jamal are artists that continue to give back to Pittsburgh.  Humphries could have stayed in NYC after achieving fame in the 1960s with Horace Silver on albums such as “Song For My Father,” “The Jody Grind” and “Cape Verdean Blues.” Instead, he returned and leads ensembles here such as the Roger Humphries Big Band, provides support to local players, and teaches.  Jamal is still going strong well into his 70s, has released albums in tribute to his former hometown, and will be performing here again in May.  (For more on Pittsburgh jazz folks, go here.)

The poll is somewhat silly, arbitrary, unscientific, etc., but if it gets you thinking about Pittsburgh music, everyone wins!  Keep voting!

 — Tim

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Pittsburgh March Music Madness

In the spirit of basketball’s March Madness, the primary season, and Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary, we created an online poll to try and get you to argue about the best musicians from Pittsburgh.

And yes, we intentionally made some huge omissions such as drumming legends Art Blakey and Kenny Clarke, the world-renowned Pittsburgh Symphony, grouchy and talented Oscar Levant, Lou “Lightnin’ Strikes Again” Christie, protest folkie Anne Feeney, 80s punks Half-Life, they’re-bigger-in-Europe-than-here rockers The Cynics, vocoder party starters Black Moth Super Rainbow, Lorin Maazel who just got back from conducting the New York Philharmonic in North Korea, pianist Mary Lou Williams, rap goofballs Grand Buffet, and on and on and on.

These omissions are good for two reasons. One, they mean that Pittsburgh has produced so many fantastic musicians that no poll or contest, no matter how large, could contain them. Two, I hope there are some folks on the lists that you’ve never heard of or that you perhaps have heard but didn’t realize had a Pittsburgh connection.

Go here to vote!  Go here to explore some more of our resources on Pittsburgh music.

 — Tim

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