Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 23, 2001 · Page 94
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 94

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Friday, February 23, 2001
Page 94
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7 m' M was not Guitar Town I got my Steve Earle tickets as soon as they announced him last month. I saw that he was scheduled for M, and although I had never been there, I thought nothing of it. I had attended numerous concerts at Rosebud and expected similar fare. I called the Thursday before the show to find out what the crowd would be like, and was told that only 700 tickets had been sold, and that the place would hold 1,200. 1 was looking forward to another good concert experience. We got there 15 minutes after the doors opened, and found that there were no seats. Not that they were all taken, but that THERE WERE NO SEATS. People were expected to stand for a three-plus hour show. Not only that, but there were no viable places to stand. M provides a dance floor that holds around 400 people. The surrounding balconies and "p?.1y rooms" provide vantage points for . maybe anothe. 100 people. This was complicated by curtains surrouncj g the viewing areas, and lounge seats (facing the wrcrg way) in front of each window. We ended up standing three-deep at a balcony window, and could barely see the end of Stacey Earle's guitar. I realized that this was going to be a bogus show experience, and started contemplating my options. I had to make waves, but I did manage to get my money back. It was obvious to anyone there that hundreds of people were not going to be able to see the show. I could see if it was a dance band or some other kind of sound-intensive show. But Steve is a very personal songwriter who cornects with his audience. M is not a concert venue. The city, which collects an exorbitant amusement tax, should insure that when a promoter sells tickets, the consumer is seeing a show. Now that Graffiti is gone, the Stanley is the Benedum, and the Mosque is a memory, someone should be ensuring that acts are not improperly booked, like this. The promoter realized a nice profit and a whole lot of Steve's fans got the shaft. TIM ROOLF Elizabeth Ducking out of Earle My wife and I attempted to see Steve Earle last Saturday at the new "M." We'd purchased our tickets weeks in advance. We even arrived early so as to attempt to get a seat as the Metropol was always famous for lousy sight lines. Upon arrival the club was so crowded that patrons were unable to gain access to bathrooms and potential exits. Every square foot of the club space was in use with the exception of the foyer. Clearly, the comfort and safety of ticket buyers was secondary to the single overriding goal, i.e., "M"-oney. Disgusted, we watched as the staff sold additional tickets to soon-to-be-equally-inconvenienced customers. As the first notes of Steve's music rang out, we were heading for the door. I own all of his CDs. My living room is a lot more comfortable, the sound system better, and the rest-rooms are accessible. Now, how do I get a refund? J.C. NEUHAUS Glenshaw WE WANT YOUR FEEDBACK Send letters, along with your real name, neighborhood and daytime phone number to Feedback: E-mail: letterspost-gazette.com. Fax:412-263-1313. Mail: Feedback, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. '. ' ' ft &i " LlV I fc ! - 1 - i iiiiiliii ir in liiiiiiilnir -" Punk band the Shut-Ins John Angola, Mark Brown and Bill Wilson were shut down by police at Chatham College in 1977. The Shut-Ins: first blast of Pittsburgh punk While this may not be discerned by the article "Hitsburgh" (Feb. 13), the first generally agreed-upon public appearance of live punk rock in Pittsburgh came in 1977 when the Shut-Ins appeared at Chatham College's REA Coffeehouse. For a total of five songs, good-natured chaos reigned in the guise of flying beer cans, obscenities traded between myself the vocalist and the crowd, and finally, the appearance of the Pittsburgh police, who decided that our fair town was not ready for punk. This evening occurred well before any of the punk bands formed that were documented in your article. Regarding Norm Nardini's "punk habit": In the mid to late 70s, Mr. Nardini eschewed the punk ethos at every opportunity, possibly upset over a new generation stealing the limelight from a rock scene that was beginning to show its age. He once, rather forcefully, insisted to me that punks, too, must pay their dues. Indeed, the eventual movement that blossomed proved quite the opposite. Joe Grushecky's quote that punks and Decade crowds hated each other was not entirely true. Perhaps unknown to Mr. Grushecky at the time, I was taken under the wing by two of his band-mates, Art Nardini and Marc Reisman to host WYEP's "Black and Blue Midnight." Once a week at midnight, the three of us spun blues recordings peppered with my punk-rock 45s until the sun came up. I don't recall any fighting or spitting occurring. JOHN ANGOLA Squirrel Hilt Music: learn to love It I got a giggle out of the letters from Arnold Greenwald and Craig Galik in last week's Feedback. I'd just like to tell you that along with this middle-aged music lover, all the kids in my family know all kinds of music, oldies included! When it comes to music, you listen to it all classical, country, jazz, oldies, new wave, punk, ska, reggae, show tunes, big band, etc. it all has something to offer. There are so many remakes of older songs today because they were written in a timeless manner. It's not a question of reliving the past. It's about enjoying ageless music. Who cares what "era" it comes from? To Arnold I'd like to say: If you're so sick of articles about Porky Chedwick, et al, why don't you just skip over them? Is someone paying you to read an article on a subject in which you have no interest? As for the musical talent, I have seen a lot of local bands in the last 10 years at various clubs and concerts, and talent runs amok in Pittsburgh. Clearly it is not easy to break into the big time but many of these bands have a following here and are greatly appreciated. You need to get out more and you need to broaden your musical horizons by introducing yourself to not only to local "oldies" bands but all the fine music you can find in and around the Pittsburgh area. And poor scared 53-year-old Craig: It sounds like you have a serious problem with anyone who dyes their hair, eats a bit too much, isn't able to wear the latest Armani European-cut suit and has a great time singing and dancing along to music they associate with a great time in their lives. Here's a clue: Oldies music is loved in Pittsburgh and the fact that several thousand people join together every year to enjoy a concert that sells out thanks to efforts of WQED affirms to me that this music is here to stay. Kudos to the overweight, hair-dyed, leisure-suit-wearing men who participate in any activity they love and makes them feel young! The funny thing about aging is, the mind can stay young but one's body doesn't cooperate! Who cares if Pittsburgh is the Oldies Capital of the World? It's a great city with a diverse base of talent. You too should get out more! And if "The Sounds of Pittsburgh" scared you too much, for goodness sake, don't watch it. Singing along to "Oh What A Night" might be contagious! , . , -,..:. , , .. , R.FUNARO . . , , , , , . , . East Carnegie A Pittsburgh soundtrack Thanks for the "Hitsburgh" pieces. I'm grateful that you've culled together the soundtrack of much of my life, which played on (and plays on) despite the not-so-grand Pittsburgh tradition, carried on by friends and colleagues, to swear off anything local as inferior and what a shame. After reading the entire series, which left me wanting more, I listened with renewed appreciation to the Iron City Houserockers' terrific first album. Then followed with Joe Grushecky's latest release. Then sat down with the Cynics' "Rock and Roll" and then found an MP3 of the Silencers' "Shiver and Shake." Thanks for the inspiration and please continue to write about this important cultural history. PAT JONES New York City Future for country music? Nate Guidry's well-researched, thought-provoking "Country Music's Blacklist" (Feb. 18) was generally on target, and many more examples of black-white interaction exist. Louis and Lillian Armstrong accompanied country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers' on his 1930 recording of "Blue Yodel No. 9." Charlie Parker never hid his love of country music and Booker T. Jones (of the MG's) produced Willie Nelson's best-selling pop album "Stardust." Guidry's sole misstep involved "Hee Haw." It may be politically correct to equate it with "Amos 'N Andy," a comedy about blacks written by whites, but it's bad history. "Hee Haw," inspired by the country comedy once common on the Grand Ole Opry and various stage shows, was shaped by some of those same comics including the late Archie Campbell. Nashville's inability to assimilate black country artists symbolizes a far deeper malady. Despite declining record sales, producers slavishly follow the demographic dictates of consultants who decide which artists and songs get airplay. The result? Sound-alike fluff aimed primarily at whites, specifically yuppies, soccer moms, aging ex-hippies and '70s rock fans. While the Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack, Alan Jackson and Vince Gill capably balance new and old, most recent "country" hits could have topped the pop charts 20 years ago. This not only undermines diversity, it's weakened the continuum between generations of country singers. Artists outside the loop are shut out, be they newcomers or still-active legends like George Jones or Merle Haggard. Playing by Nashville rules guarantees nothing. As a critic, I reviewed Cleve Francis' albums and found them mired in formulaic production. "Alternative Country" may be one ray of hope for black artists, since it's open to both traditional artists and acts beyond the comprehension of Nashville's cookie-cutter automatons. Last year, the alternative label Bloodshot Records released "Red Dirt," an excellent country album by legendary 1950s R&B singer Andre Williams. Depressed record sales forced country back to its roots in the mid-'80s. Unless it happens again, letting music take precedence over the marketing and fashion-consciousness now ruling the roost, the future for many gifted country artists, black and " white, is dim. . RICH KIENZLE . Greensburg

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