I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting more info on Arts Festival Openers. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Opening for Donora, June 9, 6:00 PM
So you’re ready for the sweetly melodious sounds of Donora, but how about something to wet your palate beforehand? Maybe something a little rougher to accentuate Donora’s playfulness a bit more? Why don’t you try Meeting of Important People, a young Pittsburgh rock band with a Jimmy Eat World vibe. Meeting of Important People have shared the stage with memorable bands like Blonde Redhead, and now they’re bringing their power pop to Three Rivers Arts Festival. The band describes their self-titled debut album as being about “how it’s sometimes just as spooky in the suburbs as it is in the city.” Who’s psyched?
Right: Meeting of Important People
Opening for Donora, June 9, 7:00 PM
I come to this band with a heavy heart. In fact, I must apologize. As much as I love Canadian supergroup Broken Social Scene, I had no idea their guitarist Andrew Whiteman had a band. They’re called Apostle of Hustle and I hope one day they can forgive me for not knowing about them. Until now, of course.
Some of you might not know Broken Social Scene. But I bet all of you know Feist. Well, she’s a member of Broken Social Scene. And so is Andrew Whiteman, frontman of Apostle of Hustle.
Apostle of Hustle captures the sunnier, less ambient side of Broken Social Scene and amplifies it, but not without making their own changes. Whiteman’s fascination with Cuban music is well-documented in the sounds of Apostle of Hustle. You can hear it in the horn section that accentuates many of the songs, and in Whiteman’s use of the tres, a Cuban guitar.
This is a quirky band with mucho indie credibility. Don’t miss it.
Opening for Booker T., June 11, 7:00 PM
Is Pittsburgh a country town? I’ve wrestled with this question a number of times but have never come to a conclusive answer. If I get the chance, maybe I’ll ask Hayes Carll, a singer/songwriter from Houston, Texas. I’ve been listening to his work and I have the feeling that he’d be able to recognize a country town when he sees one.
Carll has a drawling folksy voice with more than a bit of country grit on his tongue. A few seconds into his song “It’s a Shame” from his most recent album, Trouble in Mind, I was already drawing comparisons between him and Ryan Adams.
Like Adams, Carll is a musician with a sense of humor. Just listen to “She Left Me for Jesus” for proof (Village Voice named it their 32nd best single of 2008).
Carll is also a musician with great taste. On Trouble in Mind, he covers (be still my beating heart) Tom Waits. Anyone who appreciates Tom is all right with me.
Left: Hayes Carll
Opening for Robert Randolph & the Family band, June 12, 6:30 PM
So maybe you’re like me. Perhaps you’ve seen Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe and because of this you’ve already been introduced to Dana Fuchs, even though you didn’t realize it. In the film, Fuchs plays Sadie, a Janis Joplin-esque character with as much drive as she has voice. And she has plenty of voice. In the film, she covers the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter,” giving the song an energy that would peel the paint of your walls.
Fuchs hails from rural Florida, and grew up singing in a Baptist gospel choir. At 19 she left home for New York City to sing the blues. In between gigs, she found time to play Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway hit Love, Janis. With all these Joplin connections, I bet you can imagine what Fuchs sounds like. Her voice is raw and passionate, on the verge of shaking itself apart, ever accompanied by guitars squealing the blues and thunderous percussion.
Thumbnail: Dana Fuchs