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.
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!