August 12, 2009 by

Singer-Songwriter Jill Sobule will be in Pittsburgh on Saturday, August 15th (check out the WYEP Concert Calendar for more info) 

Barb WYEP's Sunday Mix Host (WYEP): Hello Jill! Thanks for taking the time to respond to some questions via email for the WYEP Music Blog!

WYEP: I have to get the obvious question out of the way first. Were you surprised by the attention “I Kissed A Girl” received back in 1995?

Jill Sobule (JS): Well of course. When the song was written, I thought it would just be one of the later album cuts -a kind of palate cleanser from the more depressing songs that came earlier. I had no idea it would be a single or  the song I was most known for.

WYEP: Where did you get the idea to ask your fans to donate money to record your seventh studio album? Did you start the trend? Amy Correia is now in the process of asking her fans for donations to record her next album, do you have any advice for her?

JS: I had the idea almost 3 years ago. I was definitely not the first to ask for fan support. There was a band from the UK called Marillon who have since 1996 have gone to their fans. Jane Siberry has, I think, had a similar relationship with hers. But, I think I might have been the first that put up a website that had different donation levels for various "gifts and services". I know there had been some generic sites, but none with the individual personality of the artist. Mine was pretty funny: Amy and I had lunch the other day. I think she is just done recording.  My advice was have fun, but get ready for a ton of work -stuff that a record company is supposed to do -unless of course she decides to go with a label. I think Amy is great.

WYEP: In 2008, in 53 days, you were able to raise the $75,000 you needed to record Jill’s Next Record/”California Years”. I noticed on your Tote Board that a majority of the donations were $100 or less and in the Pewter and Polished Rock level. Does this prove that every donation really did count, no matter the amount?

JS: Oh yes! That's the bread and butter. Those are the ones I am most grateful to. Although the woman from the UK that gave me the most has a special place in my heart. Actually, we are good friends now

WYEP: You also broke down your Tote Board by State and Country. I’m proud to say that Pennsylvania was well represented. So how do you explain the lack of donations from Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming? You also had support from outside the USA, especially from fans in the United Kingdom. Were you surprised that you received money from such faraway places like Greenland and Singapore?

JS: Yes, I have no idea where the girl from Greenland heard me. But these days, it's not like you have to wait for imports to come in; you just go online and listen to your favorite stations from around the world. It's always exciting when you hear from someone who lives many time zones away.

WYEP: In concert, what kind of reaction are you receiving from fans when you play a song from “California Years”? Does it feel extra special or different for you and them, knowing that the fans played a financial role in making this album happen?

JS: It's been great. It was fun having fans sing along to the songs -the donors heard  the record way before it was released.

WYEP: As a fellow Capricorn, I have to say you seem to personify many of the strong qualities under this sign: responsible, patient, ambitious, resourceful and loyal. You certainly showed your Capricorn independence by recording and releasing “California Years”. Do you believe that being a Capricorn has had any influence on the decisions you’ve made on the many paths your career has taken over the years?

JS: Well, I am an iffy Capricorn. Yes, I am all those traits you mentioned, however, I am uncharacteristically unorganized. and sometimes undisciplined . If I can get those two in order, I would be the uber Capricorn bad ass.

WYEP: You had the opportunity to work and tour with the late Warren Zevon.  What was that like?

JS: Warren became a good friend and a mentor. We had the best time on the road together. I think about him every day.

WYEP: They say you write about what you know, yet you’ve delved into so many different topics, including fiction, how do you keep coming up with fresh new ideas?

JS: Well, there is always an interesting story out there (or within). You (meaning me) just have take notice and remember to write it down. Also, it's good to get your nose out of "the internets" and go explore. Again. I am lecturing myself on that one.

WYEP: So what can we expect to hear at your show in Pittsburgh on August 15th?

JS: Songs to make you laugh, songs to make you cry.  Just kidding. I never use a set list, so I never really know what the tone of the show will be. A lot depends on the feel of the crowd. But, I promise it will be worth it.

WYEP: Jill, thanks for your time!

JS: Thank you. Oh, tell folks to go to my website I have tons of free stuff and great t-shirts. That's right!  Thank you Barb.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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August 10, 2009 by

Rock The Block at WYEP is our annual concert and block party that happens at our home at 67 Bedford Square on the Southside of Pittsburgh.  This year's headliner is Ra Ra Riot, they formed in 2006 at Syracuse University and have been compared to early R.E.M. and even called Spoon 'with strings'.  Their music covers some darker topics but delivers pop and rock hooks combining the violin and cello -- which is an important part of the band's sound. 

The Rhumb Line is the band's latest effort.  Check out a live concert from NPR from last October.

Rock The Block get's under way with a special VIP event with Serena Ryder. Tickets for general admission and the VIP event are on sale now.  Local act Lohio get's everything started musically outside followed by this year's headliner Ra Ra Riot.

Rock the Block with WYEP on Saturday, September 12th as we turn Bedford Square into a block party, featuring food, drinks, and fantastic live music.

Deatils and tickets :

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August 4, 2009 by

 WYEP is featuring the new CD from Son Volt during the week of August 3rd through 10th. Tune in and catch tracks from the disc and, it you're not already a member of WYEP or if it is time to renew you membership, sign up at the $60 level and grab a copy of the CD.  To read a copy of the review

Son Volt will be visiting the Pittsburgh area this Sunday, August 9th. They'll perform outdoor at beautiful Hartwood acres. Pack a picnic dinner and head out with family and friends to check out one of Americana's best bands.


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August 3, 2009 by

The Decemberists' have spent 2009 touring in the wake of The Hazards of Love's release.  They are bringing their 'Folk Opera' based on their latest release to the Byham Theater on Friday, August 14th. A much anticipated show for Pittsburghers' after they canceled their previous winter tour dates a couple of years ago, which included a WYEP Holiday concert.

For a Preview, take a listen to the interview with Colin Meloy and the band from their July 24th appearance on the World Cafe.

Tickets for the August 14th show at the Byham Theater

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July 16, 2009 by

A few years ago Conor Oberst, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), M.Ward, and Mike Mogis toured together and the outfit was labeled 'Monsters of Folk' by fans and bloggers alike.  The name apparently was to the guys liking and it stuck.  They spent the better part of two years recording and their debut effort will be out on September 22nd.  It will be interesting to see what the creative minds of Oberst, James, Ward, and Mogis come up with. 

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July 15, 2009 by

For Crying Out Loud, the new CD by Scott Miller is out, and he'll be doing songs from it in our first of 3 Final Fridays at Schenley Plaza shows on Friday, July 31st at 7pm. Scott's new cd was financed by the sale of initial song demos and an enhanced CD with video presold to the fan base, a truly an independent record and the debut on Scott's own label, F.A.Y. Recordings. 

You may recall Scott's song 'Amtrak Crescent' airing on WYEP.  This past May Scott did an Amtrak tour on that included 5 dates that began in New Orleans on the 30th anniversary of Amtrak and National Train Day. The tour concluded in New York City.

Join us for the free event on July 31st at Schenley Plaza. The Final Fridays at Schenley Plaza  schedule can be found at

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July 9, 2009 by

Former Mazzy Star frontwoman Hope Sandoval is making her return musically in September with a release on Nettwerk records called Through the Devil Softly.  It will mark the first album in eight years from Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions. After the breakup of Mazzy Star, vocalist Hope Sandoval joined with Colm O'Ciosoig (formerly of My Bloody Valentine) to form Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions. The project kept the laid-back, slowcore indie sound of Mazzy Star.

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July 9, 2009 by

Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall came on stage in a black dress wearing bright shiny pink stiletto heels.  Heinz Hall was a sell out for the one-hour and forty-five minute show which began and ended with a Peggy Lee song. The large stage was framed by vertical curtains that were lit to enhance the jazzy mood provided by guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Jeff Hamilton.  Beginning with the first song, each musician was given many moments to shine and the crowd responded graciously each time with applause.  Krall interpreted tunes by Frank Sinatra, Sérgio Mendes, Burt Bacharach, Oscar Peterson, Louis Armstrong and Irving Berlin.  Songs from the 1930's, the title track from her latest CD "Quiet Nights" and a song she would sing for astronauts were all part of the line-up.  As Krall was growing up in Vancouver, she was listening to jazz standards on the gramophone at home and listening to her future husband, Elvis Costello, on the radio. Their 2-1/2 year old twin sons are accompanying mom on the bus during this tour.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host 

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July 7, 2009 by

Allen Klein, powerful figure in music world, dies at 77:

Allen Klein, the brash music mogul whose five-decade career included stints as the business manager for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, died Saturday in New York. He was 77.

Klein died after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease, according to Bob Merlis, a spokesman for Klein's ABKCO Music & Records. The independent label owns or controls the rights to music by the Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, the Animals, the Kinks, Chubby Checker and Bobby Womack, among others.

John Lennon once called Klein "the only businessman I've met who isn't gray right though his eyes to his soul." George Harrison concurred in a way, saying "Because we were all from Liverpool, we favored people who were street people." Klein co-produced Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh with the Beatles guitarist. Klein also co-produced a 1971 movie, Blindman, which featured Ringo Starr)

Klein's hardnosed tactics, however, managed to alienate himself from his clients in a haze of acrimony. The Rolling Stones fired him as manager in 1970, sparking lawsuits back and forth. Lennon was Klein's major champion within The Beatles, but by 1974, Lennon was so disenchanted with Klein that he unleashed his trademark vicious wit on Klein in the song "Steel and Glass."

Watch Klein's persona satirized in The Rutles' All You Need Is Cash parody (and note that one of the henchmen to the Klein character, Ron Decline--played by John Belushi--is new Senator Al Franken):

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June 30, 2009 by

Thanks to all that attended this year's 12th Annual WYEP Summer Music Festival at Schenley Plaza on Friday, June 26th.  The crowd was out early for great sets from Meeting of Important People, The Duhks, Dar Williams, and The Sam Roberts Band.

Meeting of Important People

The Duhks

Dar Williams

Sam Roberts Band

It turned out to be a beautiful summer night for outdoor music. Thanks to all that attended ! A big Thank you goes out to all the bands and our WYEP volunteers that helped to make this years event a very special one.

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June 26, 2009 by

A few memories and notes:

  1. The Jackson 5, "the Love You Save"

  2. Michael Jackson, "Leave Me Alone"

    can't embed this video; click through to watch

  3. Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie) covering "Thriller" live:

    4. The "Jackson 5ive" cartoon:

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June 22, 2009 by

Recently Beck got together a bunch of friends to record an entire album in a day. Not a new album, but a song-by-song tribute to an album of the past. Calling the project "Record Club," Beck worked with his ad hoc group to cover The Velvet Underground & Nico. The ensemble included Beck, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, Brian Lebarton, Bram Inscore, Yo, Giovanni Ribisi, Chris Holmes, and Thorunn Magnusdottir. Here's one of the fruits of their labor:

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June 22, 2009 by

The fans were singing, clapping and dancing along to their favorite Indigo Girls songs Sunday night.  They were more than receptive to the songs from their new album “Poseidon and the Bitter Bug” – which was good, since Amy Ray and Emily Saliers performed almost all of the tracks from their new disc (just released in March).  Amy and Emily started off the show with two new songs and interspersed the new material with the older more familiar tunes during a solid 90 minute plus set, and a two song encore.  Nearly two dozen songs, with the new material seamlessly intertwined among the fan favorites.  Included were some of the songs that you can find on WYEP’s 913 Essential Songs Countdown: “Power of Two”, “Galileo” (final song of the evening) and the #1 essential song “Closer to Fine” which brought David Ryan Harris back up on stage to join the Indigo Girls on a verse or two.  Amy shined solo on “Romeo & Juliet”.  Julie Wolf accompanied the Indigo Girls on stage playing electric keyboards and accordion and providing backing vocals.

Over the years, The Indigo Girls have made lot of friends in the music business; many of whom have said Amy & Emily have influenced them in their own careers.  Opening the show this evening was one of their friends (originally from Atlanta), singer-songwriter David Ryan Harris (DRH).  DRH sat in a metal folding chair while playing his guitar.  Most musicians I’ve seen prefer to stand.  The crowd was still filing in, but when DRH started doing an extended falsetto during his opening song “If I Had a Dime” he immediately captured the audience.  During his tune “Pretty Girl”, DRH weaved snippets of songs by the likes of Prince and John Mayer among others into the mix.  DRH played nearly a 50-minute set, with 8 songs (including a cover of “Uptight”).

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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June 18, 2009 by

We've had a lot of positive reaction to K'Naan's new song 'Wavin Flag' on WYEP.  From K'Naan's wikipedia page I discovered he was born in Mogadishu, Somalia and spent his childhood in the district of Wardhiigleey ("The River of Blood") and lived there during the Somali Civil War.  His aunt, Magool, was one of Somalia's most famous singers.

His 2nd effort called 'Troubadour' is being well received by critics and music fans. His music falls somewhere between reggae, hip hop, and r&b. There's definitely a positive feel and message to his lyrics and music.

According to K'naan, he makes "urgent music with a message", talking about the situation in his homeland of Somalia and calling for an end to violence and bloodshed. He curently lives in Canada.

Something to check out.

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June 15, 2009 by

Singer-Songwriter Ari Hest  opened for The Clarks June 13th.  Hest brought his band, performing for nearly an hour, just a few days prior to his 30th birthday (June 16th).  Hest mentioned he would be back in Pittsburgh this fall.  This interview was conducted prior to that concert.

Barb WYEP's Sunday Mix Host (WYEP):  Hi Ari!  Thanks for taking the time to respond to some questions via email for the WYEP Music Blog!

Ari Hest (AH):  My pleasure Barb, thank you!

WYEP:  You were in Pittsburgh in March at Club Café, out on the road promoting your newly self released CD “Twelve Mondays”.  How did the tour go?  Have you reached a comfort level yet with the songs?

AH:  The tour was one of the best I've had in a long time. I hadn't been out with a band in a couple of years. I almost forgot how much fun that can be. The long drives from city to city don't seem as long when you're in the right environment. My only regret is that we didn't stay out longer. I think musically we were getting better and better with each show and unfortunately it had to end right when things were really going well. The crowds were great and I was pleasantly surprised at their knowledge of songs from 52, some of which i hadn't played live before we left.

WYEP:   Please tell us more about the ‘52’ Project that you embarked on during 2008 which led up to the recording of “Twelve Mondays”.  It was quite an ambitious project to write, record, produce and release one new song per week, for 52 weeks in a row and have your fans vote for those that would end up on “Twelve Mondays”.

AH: After leaving Columbia Records I knew I had to do something unique to stick out among the droves of singer/songwriters out there. I've always written a lot of music in my career but was never able to release it as quickly as i would've liked. An album every two years just didn't work for me. When i came up with the idea, i realized it was gonna be very difficult, but something about the challenge appealed to me. So for every monday of 2008, I recorded a new song and released in to subscribers to 52. For $20, anyone was able to get access to these songs as well as comment on them on the website built by my management. Earlier this year the subscribers voted on their favorite 12 songs and those songs appeared on "Twelve Mondays" remixed and, in some cases, re-recorded.

WYEP:  You wanted artistic control over your music, so do you have a new sense of freedom now?  Will you continue to self-release future recordings?

AH:  Definitely. I love the control as I am a control freak. As far as future recordings go, i'm open to seeing what's out there, but right now this system works for me and i have no intention of changing it up.

WYEP:You were on the inaugural Cayamo songwriters cruise in 2008, any chance you will return as a performer in 2010?

AH:  I really hope so. I had such a great time in 2008 and was bummed to miss last year's trip. What a great idea that boat is. It's the perfect vacation for music lovers. I wish it were up to me but I know the powers that be want to give some other musicians a chance to play as well, so we'll see.

WYEP:  Your next record is being produced by Alex Wong, who co-produced and arranged Vienna Teng’s most recent release “ Inland Territory ”.  When can we expect to hear some tracks from this effort?  Also how do you have anything left to write about after the ‘52’ Project?  You will also be doing some shows with Vienna Teng this summer, will this open up the chance for some collaboration on stage?

AH:  The time schedule has not been worked out yet but all i can say is I am truly excited and challenged to be working with such a talented musician as Alex. Vienna and I had our first show together last week and sang a bit on each other's material which was a treat. She's also a tremendous musician that I'm honored to play with each time.

WYEP:  The Amphitheatre at Station Square is situated along the Mon River and some railroad tracks. Well, sometimes trains go by during a performance. Do you have any songs to sing about trains?

AH:  "Dead End Driving"? "Ride The Brake"? Not exactly train songs but some of the lyrics fit. "The Weight" has a train beat, so hopefully the train will come by while we're playing that one.

WYEP:  I’ve always wanted to ask a singer-songwriter what it was like to record someone else’s song, especially when it was a hit for the other artist.  You do this amazing version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies “ on “The Green Room Sessions EP”. How did you choose that particular song to cover?  It really suits your style.

AH:  I didn't plan on it. I happened to hear "Little Lies" earlier that day on the radio and thought it might sound cool given a darker musical mood. It also happened to be around the time I began to do some home recording. Fleetwood Mac is a big influence. I learned to play guitar right around the time "The Dance" came out and it got me to listen to a lot of their previous albums. Incredible songwriters.

WYEP: Thanks for your time!

AH:  You got it Barb, thank you again!

Ari Hest belting out his last song 06.13.09 at The Ampitheatre at Station Square:

ari hest

Previous posts:

"Twelve Mondays" - A CD review:

03.17.09 Ari Hest concert review:

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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