May Day Marching Band: a band by, of, & for the people (and their parties!)

On a beautifully mild and pleasant October evening, Pittsburghers of all stripes gathered in the normally quiet hamlet of Greenfield to rejoice in the re-opening of The Greenfield Bridge, a main thoroughfare connecting the community to Schenley Park and Oakland! Crafts, games, and delicious food trucks abounded, but my main reason for attending, and the perfect musical accompaniment, was a performance by the city’s own community-based band, The May Day Marching Band.

After a bombastic announcement that the bridge would, indeed, be dedicated in the spirit of Wonder by a colorful and impish Master-of-Ceremonies of sorts, The M.D. Marching Band led the procession to the “Wonder” maypole and back with a rousing rendition of “Song for Wonder,” a tune based on “Daniel Prayed” by the late, great Dr. Ralph Stanley and personalized for the event with words by Connor Sites-Bowen. The Marching Band did a fantastic job, especially considering that they had been presented with the song a mere twenty minutes before their performance. Once returning to center-bridge, the band really had a chance to shine, playing a song by Lokonon Andre & Les Volcans, “Mi Kple Dogveckpo” and a cover of the Peruvian folk song “Bella Andajena” in a spirited circle jam complete with frenzied dancing swirling around them.

Much to the disappointment of myself and the crowd, their set and celebration was cut short for some prolonged oration rife with political name-dropping prior to the bridge’s ribbon cutting. Although fun and carefree, the whole event seemed a bit disorganized. There was even a “parade” across the bridge in which the Marching Band didn’t appear to be invited to play in, a true loss.

Undeterred, the MDMB pulled double-duty that day by playing a full set at the burgeoning Glitter Box Theater, only breaking for a group meal, which is one of their only indulgences when compensated for their performances. The group of anywhere up to twenty musicians at any given appearance pride themselves on their volunteerism and have got an impressive resume to boast it, having played this year’s Women’s March on Washington and as far away as Boston’s renowned HONK! Festival in their seven or eight year career.

What’s so punk about a marching band? How about a Crass cover? Filmed by & featuring Punksburgh‘s own Thomas Koraido!

Meanwhile, back at home in the ‘bugh, the band have been a mainstay at Pittonkatonk‘s free-for-all May Day Brass BBQ. Ever evolving and expanding, the band invites musicians of all skill levels to join them under the Bloomfield Bridge from 2 – 4 pm for open practice every Sunday for as long as the weather remains above fifty degrees, after which you are invited to join them in the toasty indoors! I’ve been assured that dancers are welcome as well, although the inside spaces may prevent such revelry. Email for inside practice locations: maydayband@riseup.net.

Experience the socially-conscious party that is the May Day Marching Band for yourself when they play at Howlers on October 25th with L.A.’s folk-metal The Manx and locals Joey Molinaro playing grindcore violin, and Crisp Lake (Chris Blake, ha!) playing hobo street music, from what I gather. Sounds like a good time to me!

#SharePGHMusicMonth: Weapons of Choice, the choicest for hardcore!

Not to be confused with that other, singular, ’90s funk-punk band, Weapons of Choice is hardcore to the core! Formed in 2013, they struggled to find a 3-word name to easily identify themselves as a hardcore band a la ’80s powerhouses like MDC, DOA, SOD, MOD, and so on. Despite the fact that WOC is pronounced with a “Dubya” in Pittsburghese, the core members Shawn – vocals,  Ryan – guitar, and Travis – drums came to an agreement and there was no going back!

With the recent addition of Will on bass, WOC’s live shows are full of energy and humor. I am forever surprised by the size of the scream that Shawn effortlessly manages to force out and the gleeful expressions on Travis’ face are a steadfast reminder that it’s all in good fun.  Adding to their performances, the boys frequently invite the crowd to do away with the notion of a fourth wall and participate in the chaos. Ryan reminisces with a smile about the madness he’s witnessed both on stage and off over his 25 years as a musician saying, ” I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff as a performer. I hope that never stops!”

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#SharePGHMusicMonth, it’s National Dumplings Day!

EVERYone loves Dumplings! Like the delicious culinary treats enveloped in dough, devour today’s #SharePGHMusicMonth auditory treat enveloped in rock, Dumplings, the band!

Birthed in 2012, Dumplings is a family affair. Brothers Jason on drums and Jonathan on guitar and vox were joined by Pam on bass & vox to complete their trio of tune smiths. Tying the knot in 2016, Jon officially brought Pam into the fold, making the band 100% Dowling.

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#SharePGHMusicMonth: Gahara “don’t do covers,” + bonus video, Mud City Manglers!

Don’t let the byline fool you, today’s pick & piece comes form Old Man McGee, who is probably my best resource for new local music. Enjoy!

It is #SharePGHMusicMonth after all, so I took a minute to chat with my old friend, Benj, who helms the drums for local heavy riff band Gahara. They’ve been together around four years now, but these cats all have former lives in other prolific local bands like Shiver, Vega, Gigantis, and the appropriately named The Burning Sensations. So really, they’ve been around for years and if you’ve ever caught them live their experience is apparent, as they tend to own the stage.

I asked Benj how he would describe their sound to which he replied, “heavy ball bashing riffage,” which is probably more apt than anything I would have come up with! Typically, when describing their sound I reference bands like Fu Manchu and Black Sabbath. Benj has recently re-discovered the joy of Mickey’s Wide Mouth bottles and when I asked about the band’s influences, he responded:

“We just do our own thing. We’re all a little older now, so we don’t really care about what’s cool. We write songs that we like and we don’t really write to fit any style or genre. We don’t do covers.”

Don’t take this “heavy” talk too far though, ’cause these guys still put on a fun show and know how to have a good time while dragging you along for the ride!

Gahara wrapped up a series of summer shows with Brews and Brushes at Black Forge Coffee House last month as part of the wind up to the Brewtal Beer Fest 2 that went down on September 9th. They’re working on getting their songs studio ready and are planning to record and self release a full length album in 2018.
Since it is #SharePGHMusicMonth I asked Benj to hit us with a local band people should know about. He said, “go check out the Mud City Manglers, cause those guys rock.”

T. Punbchbowl here again. Since we uncharacteristically missed a day of this celebratory month (Monday must have been manic,) we decided to double-dose you today! Also enjoy this track from Benji’s recommended band, Pittsburgh mainstay Punk ‘N Rollers, The Mud City Manglers! This track is from Mind Cure Records October 2013 Single of The Month, but you can sample songs from their 2016 release, “Heart Full of Hate” on ReverbNation.

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Happy Friday! Happy #SharePGHMusicMonth! Shows to help you celebrate in style!

I got to pick one for #SharePGHMusicMonth & I chose a metal band that any fan of the genre should hear. They also have TWO shows this weekend! The hard-hitting quartet, Divine Tragedy, describe themselves as, “Thrash style Metal accompanied by melodic double guitar harmonies, underlying bass grooves & thundering drums to guide you on epic tales.” That’s quite a description and far be it for me to argue with the musicians themselves, but I have it on good authority that they won’t be upset if you think of them as Power or simply Heavy Metal, as I do. Just as long as you think of them!

Once again this weekend I find myself lamenting the fact that I can’t be two or more places at once. With that in mind, he’s my wishlist for shows tonight, followed closely by even more rad shows that should be of interest!

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#SharePGHMusicMonth! The Hedonism Bots

hedonism bots

Dan Christ, Jordan Zankey, & Andrew J Riegner

Punksburgh‘s first band featured in a #SharePGHMusicMonth post in earnest comes highly recommended by “Old Man McGee,The Hedonism Bots! The hedonistically debaucherous trio has been described as “a jam band version of Iggy Pop and The Stooges with lo-fi vocals,” but to my ears they sound more like The Residents seived backwards through the Butthole Surfers with some funky Talking Heads bass lines. The effortlessly verbose and slightly rakish lead singer, guitar player, keyboard player, “looks, and creative genius” behind the project, Andy, makes no qualms about shameless & tongue-in-cheek self-promotion. He describes his influences as being vodka, beer, and human horn (that’s an aphrodisiac, I think.) When they’re not performing you may be able to find him under a bridge collecting half-empty, or full depending on your perception, Mad Dog bottles and Phil Collins t shirts. Due to the fact that, much like Prince, the bulk of their videos are deep in a vault on unmarked VHS tapes, and after much deliberation, the track ‘Easiest Person’ from the 2016 album ‘Crashin’ The Party’ was chose as the ideal fit for #SharePGHMusicMonth. Enjoy & share!

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#SharePGHMusicMonth! The creator speaks & Punksburgh’s picks!

September is #SharePGHMusicMonth! All month! It seems simple enough, share your favorite local bands, preferably publicly, with the hashtag #SharePGHMusicMonth. Nonetheless, Punksburgh wanted to know more, so we pestered the creator, Chip DiMonick, that’s right, from the Hard Rock band Chip DiMonick, to get the lowdown. Chip tells us that:

“#SharePGHMusicMonth was just something that popped into my head one day last year, so I tried it last July. It caught on so well, I wanted to give it another try this year. I thought September might be better because us Pittsburghers like to enjoy that one month of sunshine we get in July.”

We can attest to that! We also can’t argue his reasons behind it:

“#SharePGHMusicMonth is an easy, free way to truly support homegrown music. Just use social media to share your favorite artist’s music video and use the hashtag. And challenge yourself to do it every remaining day in September – it’s fun and addicting!

(The) musicians should see it as a great way to get visibility for themselves and to show what they are always asking for: support for the Pittsburgh music scene! If musicians want support, they have a better chance of getting it if they SET AN EXAMPLE of what support looks like. Plus, it’s the ultimate pay-it-forward game. When your music is shared, sharing the music of others shows that you care about the scene, too.”

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Review: MethMatics, Whitethrash, The New 52 @ The Smiling Moose 8/25/17

For the second weekend in a row I was enticed to withstand the South Side to go to a show. While I do sneak down the back alleys to get to The Smiling Moose, this line-up made smoking outside among the sloppy Yinzers well worth it! I have to say that I was disappointed by the turnout at this event, a good portion of the crowd leaving after the first band, but the loss is theirs. The night’s entire roster was outstanding!

I had never witnessed The New 52, the aforementioned first band, before. The trio claim to be from Zerosville, PA, which could be located just about anywhere. Self-described Alternative Punk, they reminded me a bit of EARLY Green Day, maybe some NOFX, although their compositions are probably more mature. On vocals & guitar, Brian isn’t afraid to get personal and raw with a few songs, but overall these guys really seemed to revel in rocking out their 11 song set list. Unfortunately, they don’t have any recordings ready for public consumption yet, so you’re left with no choice BUT to go check them out in the flesh. I’d consider it a personal favor that when you do, someone brings poor drummer Gerald a sturdy cinder block for his bass drum. As for the other bass, I admit that they did win some points from me for having a killer lefty filing the role with Wes.

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