The Cat’s Meow Episode 5 featured an interview about my work in music and technology. We talked about how Steel Kitty Productions got it’s name and my latest single, This Life.
I had a blast with my pal TJ on acousticSongs LIVE! from WNJR studios. We talk about how tech skills help me to reach more people with music and help me to keep learning!
I sat down with Brian in this edition of River Talk Extra. I played a song for the listeners, and then talked about my influences growing up, and my view of the Pittsburgh Music scene! Tune into the 24 hour broadcast. A special shoutout to Kevin Garrett in this episode.
First time performing solo in Pittsburgh was at Club Cafe. 15 minutes before this took place, I had dropped my guitar outside on the sidewalk. Jimbo Jackson told me I still needed to get my butt on stage and perform. Check out his performance here. The guitar was a gift from the person I wrote the song for. He was my awesome neighbor who’s girlfriend really liked arguing then apologizing. Fast forward a few days later, I had a picture from this performance in the Pittsburgh City Paper and one of my friends shared a link to this video that someone recorded. This is why I love the Pittsburgh music scene. On the drums is Eric George who is part of the AcoustiCafe house band.
During that time period, I made some of the dearest friends. We had the most fun. My friend and favorite bartender Jocelyn unfortunately passed away suddenly. Just so you know how much we all loved her, I’m including this video of the Jocelynda’s performing Dr. Horrible songs for her birthday. Honestly tearing up at the HBD at the end.
One of my biggest supporters has been Deb Cook of Steel Kitty Productions. She and Liz Berlin (yes, that Liz Berlin) gave me a lot of support as a female songwriter. This video and cover of Fleetwood’s “The Chain” was during the Creative Life Support series with my band Grey’s Fool playing on the main stage of Mr. Smalls Theater. I’m always so happy to see this performance because it makes me think of the best people in Pittsburgh. Also, if you don’t wait for the drum solo you are cheating yourself.
Things were going pretty well with Grey’s Fool, so we entered the Dos Equis Songwriting Competition and won. This is an early acoustic version of Drive. This experience would lead us to recording the 4 song EP “Drive” with producer Bryan Cole. Want to hear the final version? Listen on Spotify.
One of the fan favorites of Grey’s Fool was a song we wrote called Monster. “If it’s the last word that wins, baby please just spit it out” the lyrics of this song really used to rip my heart out. If you want to hear the version from the record, you can listen on Spotify.
Quiet Undone was my ode to Billy Joel. I wrote it freeversing with my iPhone and sent it to Jeremy. We setup a writing session and the rest was history. Want to hear the recorded version? Listen here on Spotify.
This cover of the Beatles Only Sleeping was an arrangement I was very proud of. I’ve included it mostly so that I could talk about coincidences. The rehearsal space where we worked every Thursday both had meaning to us. On Sundays, it was where I would lead worship. It was also where Jeremy taught music. We both had no idea until he sent me the address for his rehearsal space. I love happy coincidences and the amazing acoustics that we had in that space.
While performing several nights a week, I still found time to play around with solo music at home. I spent a lot of this time writing with many people. It just brought me so much joy. Someone could play a guitar lick and I would just start singing.
One of the guitarists and songwriters I work with is Jason Buzon. We worked on a song called “As If”. It’s a song about romance and grief. What kinds of questions people ask when they play the what if game.
Currently in the Works
Fast forward to 2020. Many of the music venues where I loved to play are closed. I’m recovering from TMJ (jaw) surgery and unable to sing for the next few months, but am looking forward to doing more with music very soon.
This is the original of my song Galaxy. Remember the songwriting competition from the first page? That song was rewritten and recorded in 4 hours, which I thought this was already pretty good. I love it so much, even after all of these years so I am producing and releasing a demo version that I recorded prior to surgery.
“This Life” was written so fast. It just came out when I was noodling around on the uke in the Southside. I ran to my car and pulled out my iPhone. This recording was so super fresh. I haven’t made many changes to the song. It’s gotten a ton of mileage, including making it to the finals of the WYEP Songwriter Competition, but I’ve never professionally recorded it. Looking forward to doing that in 2021!
Another competitor in that same year was Clinton Clegg. I was a singer in The Commonheart during my pregnancy. We played every festival in 2015, sometimes 2-3 performances a weekend. It was fun, exciting and exhausting. This video was taken outside of Club Cafe by Base Camp Pictures.
You have to listen to Pray. This one was wild and free for sure! Our friends in the music community would rent out the Gateway Clipper for “The Three Hour Tour” and fill it with live music and friends. So many good times! It transitions outside to Nameless in August, Jeremy’s other band and finally you get a quick river view of Pittsburgh. My favorite vocal breakdown is at 4:30.
At the same time as the Commonheart, I collaborated on a project with my friends called Black Little Birds. The project featured another songwriter that I love and admire, Morgan Erina. We both stepped out of our comfort zones to make this music and I am still so proud that in the short time that we worked on this project, we played the main stage for The Three Rivers Arts Festival. The song “Open Heart” was something I wrote based on my personal experience of letting go of Ghandi as a person that I looked up to. For all the good that he did, I learned that he was accused of some pretty bad stuff too. The song was about taking someone off of a pedestal and letting them be human.
So this rabbit hole will continue to grow. I hope you enjoyed your journey with me. Ask my questions and share what you love on Twitter at @songri_la.