Daily Archives: July 28, 2011

Special Ks: Pittsburgh Musicians

I’ve mentioned before how southeastern suburban Denver, where I grew up, is seemingly dominated by people of Northwestern European descent.  My last name is Williams and the last names of the members of my first teenage suburban punk band were Jacobs, Guthrie, and Swanson.

Then I moved to Pittsburgh, which has many more Eastern Europeans, and the last names of my new band mates were different.  For instance, there were lots of names that ended in the letter K.  I made music (and a fair amount of noise with screaming over top of it) with guys with last names like Jencik, Kasparek, Tlumack, and Potiseck.  And we shared the stage with musicians with last names such as Zentek, Jarabeck, Urchick, Dayak, and Garbark.

Early 1990s Western PA bandmates (Photographer unknown)

None of these punk and indie rock musicians make any music that sounds remotely Eastern European or with any instruments from their forebearers’ countries.  Fortunately, others carry on those traditions.  Nonetheless, these fellow noisemakers of mine are the Special Ks that help give Pittsburgh its distinctive flavor.

— Tim

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