2013 was an active year for the Pittsburgh Music History with dozens of new stories, thousands of visits, and support from musicians, music promoters, music historians, music fans and other websites.
Pittsburgh Music History had 75,677 visits during 2013.
The monthly average was 6,306 visits with a peak of 8,300 visits in July.
Over 86,000 other website have links to Pittsburgh Music History
The most read new stories published in 2013 were
The most read stories overall on Pittsburgh Music History in 2013 were
Doo-Wop & Vocal Groups
1960 to 2000
Stanley Theater - Rock Era
The Four Coins
Graffiti Showcase and Graffiti Rock Challenge
Civic Arena Concert Schedule
Three Rivers Stadium
Great New Albums from Pittsburgh Musicians
2013 saw the release of great new albums from Joe Grushecky, Rusted Root, George Benson, Dan Bubien, J.D. Eicher & the Goodnights, Billy Price, Bill Deasey, Vanessa Campagna, Chrome Moses, Marcus Meston, and Mike Stout
Thanks to the many people who contributed stories ideas and information this year including Jerry Zolten, Phil the Knight, Jimmie Ross, John Rinaldo, Bree Freeman, Hermie Granati, Rick Granati, Frank Czuri, members of Joe Hiller's family, Colter Harper, Barbara Blue, Ernie Hawkins, Bob Beach and more.
Thanks to Dr. Nelson Harrison for his continued support Pittsburgh Music History on the Jazzburgher network site at
Thanks to Scott Mervis of the Post Gazette and Scott Tady of the Beaver County Times for their continued support and great news stories and interviews.
Thanks to the Huffington Post for using Pittsburgh Music History as a reference in your story on Lena Horne
Thanks to Michael Ricci of Allaboutjazz.com for working with us and Colter Harper on the story of Jimmy Ponder
Thanks to someone at money.msn.com who linked to our story on Phylliss Hyman brining 1,300 visits.
( I still can't find the link)
The Inaugural Pittsburgh Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame Celebration
2014 Inaugural Inductee Rich Engler
Thursday Jan 23, 2014
Hard Rock Cafe
Station Square Pittsburgh
Come out to honor Rich Engler for the thousands of concerts he brought to Pittsburgh as co-owner of DiCesare-Engler Productions.
A video respective of Rich's storied career will be shown.
Enjoy energetic performances by an All Star Rock'n Roll band with Joe Grushecky, Donnie Iris, B.E. Taylor, Rick Witkowski, Hermie Granati, Scott Blasey, Frank Czuri, Joffo Simmons & Art Nardini.
Joel Preseman, CEO and President of the international Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, will present the award to Rich.
Buy autographed rock'n roll memorabilia at the silent auction
Proceeds will benefit the Cancer Caring Center cancercaring.org
The Cancer Caring Center has provided free services to cancer patients and their families for 25 years
Tickets - General Admission $150 - Doors open at 6:30 PM
- VIP reception & tickets $200 Doors open at 5:30
Buy Tickets at Eventbrite
Hear great songs written and/or performed by Pittsburgh area musicians on the genre pages of Pittsburgh Music History. Spotify song playlists are now featured on The Rock, Doo Wop, Jazz, Blues, Folk, Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, Classical Composers, Instrumentalists, and Pittsburgh Songs pages.
Enjoy classic songs like the Skyliners's "Since I Don't Have You", Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life", and Rusted Root's "Send Me on My Way". Hear Perry Como sing Henry Mancini's "Moon River" and Roy Orbison crooning Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer".
Sign up to Spotify for free at http://www.spotify.com/us/
In Spotify find the Pittsburgh music history playlists by searching on "Pittsburgh"
The playlists include Pittsburgh Rock, Pittsburgh Blues Pittsburgh Doo Wop ....etc.
Share the playlists with your Spotify friends.
Pittsburgh Music History Celebrates Black History Month 2012
Honoring 3 Singing Greats, Hills District Venues, and the 1st African American Music Promoter
To celebrate Black History Month the Pittsburgh Music History website is honoring three world renowned Pittsburgh singers Maxine Sullivan, Dakota Staton and Phyllis Hyman. Also featured are the stories of three influential Hill District music venues: the Musicians Club, the Pythian Temple and the Bambola Social. Champion Athlete Sellers McKee Hall who was one of Pittsburgh’s first African American music and sports promoters is also honored.
Pittsburgh’s Divas - Maxine, Dakota, and Phyllis
Three extremely naturally talented Africa American female vocalists who learned their craft in Pittsburgh found overnight national success when they made their first appearances in New York City. Soaring quickly to the top of the charts they went on to become singers influential in the history of jazz, blues, R&B, and popular music who left behind an enduring legacy of great recordings.
Maxine Sullivan, who learned to sing with her uncle's jazz band, went to New York on a weekend round trip ticket and got a job singing intermissions at a 52 Street jazz club. Within a matter of weeks she had a national hit with the song Loch Lomond. Music historians credit Maxine with originating an innovative graceful soft swing style with precise diction and timing that influenced generations of female jazz singers including Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee. A prolific recording artist her music appears on over 150 albums and continues to be released on new compilations. She hosted her own national radio show for two years, was a Tony Nominated Broadway Actress and appeared in the movies. Elected to the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame she is hailed by music critics as one of the great singers of the 20th century.
Dakota Staton studied classical voice at the Filion School of Music in Oakland, sang with in Carl’s McVicker’s Kadets jazz band at Westinghouse High School with future jazz superstars Ahmad Jamal and Grove Mitchell, and played the clubs of Pittsburgh with Joe Wespray’s Orchestra. In 1954 she moved to New York where she was discovered singing at Harlem’s Baby Grand Club by Capitol Records’s head of A&R Dave Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh signed her to Capitol and quickly released her first single in November of 1954. She came to international fame with her album “The Late, Late Show” that reached number 4 on the Billboard Top 100. With a string of acclaimed hit albums on Capitol Records from 1957 through 1961 she was as popular as Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington. Dakota Staton was a captivating story teller with natural feeling for blues and swing. You can feel her powerful anguish when she belts out the pain of being wronged in blues songs like “I Stood By”, “I did Everything Right with the Wrong Man” and It's The Talk Of The Town”. Stayton recorded more than thirty critically acclaimed albums on several labels during her career working with arrangers Nelson Riddle, Sid Feller, George Shearing, Benny Carter and Groove Holmes. Music historians write that she influenced a generation of African-American female singers by creating what the New York Times called “a stylistic link between the earthiness of Dinah Washington and Big Maybelle and Chaka Khan's note-bending pop-funk iconoclasm".
Phyllis Hyman learned music singing with school choirs in Pittsburgh and taking voice lessons from her school music teacher jazz pianist Dave Tamburi. In late 1975 Phyllis moved to New York and found work singing in the uptown jazz club Rusts Brown. Within one week the club was standing room only with Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, Ashford and Simpson, Al Jarreau, singer Cuba Gooding, and musician/producer Norman Conners sitting in the audience. They were drawn in by her powerful voice and her super model thin stunning beauty. Conners hired Phyllis to sing lead on his Buddha Records album “You Are My Starship”. The cut “Betcha By Golly Wow” became at Top 30 R&B hit and Phyllis was “named Best New R&B Vocalist of 1977 by Record World Magazine. Exceptionally talented she sang emotionally powerful ballads with her distinct beautiful silky smooth dexterous contralto voice. With her great vocal range and her ability to emotionally interpret lyrics on songs like “I Refuse to be Lonely” Phyllis Hyman captivated audiences winning her many loyal fans and high acclaim. Recording 9 albums between 1977 and 1995 on the Buddha, Artista, and Philadelphia International Records label Phyllis scored many hits on the R&B and Pop charts. Starring on Broadway with Gregory Hines for two years in the Duke Ellington tribute musical “Sophisticated Ladies” she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and won the Theatre World Award for Best Newcomer. Signing with Gamble and Huff’'s Philadelphia International Records she released two of her greatest albums: Living All Alone (1986) and Prime of My Life (1991), which included the number one Hot R&B/Hip-Hop hit “Don't Wanna Change the World. She was blessed with an incredible once in a lifetime singing voice and statuesque beauty, but cursed with crippling bi-polar disease that put her in such great despair that she took her own life. The range of extreme joy and deep sadness that she felt are reflected in the legacy of her great heartfelt dramatic recordings memorialized on 22 compilations.
Recordings and live performances videos of these three great singers have been have been compiled into three Youtube play lists. Links are provided on each artist’s biography page.
Maxine Sullivan Gems http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL644698F0928C4480
Dakota Staton Gems http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7F990D2F8761B118
Phyllis Hyman Legacy http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCF1221E54DF5AD48
Hill District Music Venues
The crossroads of the jazz world the lower Hill Distinct was home to many important music venues. The story of three of these venues is told.
From the late 1920s through 1950s The Pythian Temple was one of the nation’s premiere venues for jazz. It was a must stop for touring jazz artists and “the” place in Pittsburgh to dance to the music of the big swing bands. Promoter Sellers McKee Hall, Pittsburgh’s first African American music promoter, brought the biggest names in jazz to Pittsburgh for his popular dances that drew crowds of 1,500 to 2,000. In a nationally broadcast radio performance from the Pythian Temple ballroom in 1930 Duke Ellington was crowned the “King of Jazz”. Promoter Harry Hendel took ownership of the Temple in 1937 turning the 1st floor into the New Granada movie Theater and renaming the ballroom to the New Savoy. A new generation of jazz artists performed at the ballroom during the late 1940s and 1950s. Top R&B acts performed there from the 1960s until the ballroom’s closure in the early 1970s. Hosting dances and concerts by national and Pittsburgh artists for over 40 years the Pythian earned its place in the annuals of jazz history.
The Musician’s Club of Local 471 was a lively after hours club that presented great jazz by local and national musicians for 30 years. Located on the second floor the Musician’s Club was a piano bar and rehearsal space that was the vital social and creative hub for jazz musicians. It was the meeting place for African American and white musicians from all parts of Pittsburgh and the country. There Pittsburgh and national musicians socialized, jammed, learned from each other, auditioned, formed bands, booked gigs, rehearsed, and performed. National touring musicians who played the show downtown or in Hill District clubs went to the Musician’s Club after their gigs for food, drinks, and late night jam sessions. The Musician’s club was also a social hub for jazz fans. In the 1940s saxophonist Leroy Brown led the popular Sunday night sessions that were they only place to hear jazz on Sundays due to the Blue laws. During the 1950’s Wednesdays were “Celebrity Nights” when national artists performed with members of local 471. Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Ammons, Illinois Jacquet, Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins were a few of the many stars who performed at the Musician’s club. The jam sessions at the Musician’s Club were legendary. Not every national jazz musician came to the Musician’s Club to jam as they were afraid of the stiff competition that they faced from local 471 members. Saxophonist Hill Jordan said “in Pittsburgh a guy might jump off a garbage truck and play you off the stage." A Pennsylvania state historical marker honoring the Musicians Club will be dedicated in the Hill District on Saturday June 16, 2012.
One of the most popular clubs in the heyday of Pittsburgh’s Hill District was the Bambola Social Club. An after hours membership club it was housed in the wide basement underneath the RHUMBA movie theater on Fullerton Street. When the bars and clubs of the Hill closed for the night the members of the Bambola and their guests went to the Bambola for more late night entertainment. It was open every night and provided entertainment from midnight to five or six in the morning on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The Bambola presented floor shows which were two hour sets of acts by dancers, comedians, risqué shake dancers, and a band hosted by an emcee. There was no cover charge. The Bambola Social Club, besides have a cool name, was important in the development of Be Bob in Pittsburgh. The floor shows started at 2 AM after the regular hours bars closed. The band played music from midnight to 2 A.M. while the crowd was sparse. Band leader Tommy Turrentine took advantage of that time to play the adventurous new sounds of Bebop that were banned from the other clubs on the Hill.
Sellers McKee Hall
Star athlete, sportsman and businessman Sellers McKee Hall was Pittsburgh’s first African American music promoter. He brought the biggest names in jazz to Pittsburgh for his popular dances that drew crowds of 1,500 to 2,000 to the Pythian Temple and other venues. Sell also sponsored legendary “Battle of Music” shows pitting national acts against Pittsburgh bands. Under Sell Hall’s management the Pythian Temple offered food, drinks and all night dancing. Sell also booked dances at the New Dreamland Arcade, Harmerville Park, the Japanese Garden Boat, Central Theater, and other venues. Bernie Dunlap, owner the Hurricane club learning the music promotion business work for Sell in the 1930s. Sell also owned several businesses in the Hill. Like his contemporary friend and rival Cum Posey, owner of the Homestead Grays, Sell Hall also owned and managed two baseball teams: the American Giants and the Cuban-X. Sell Hall and Cum Posey became friends as team mates on the Loendi Five basketball team that won the Colored Basketball World’s Championship four years in a row from 1920-23. Sell was also a star pitcher with the Pittsburgh Colored Collegians club baseball team that was one of the early chief rivals of Homestead Grays and its owner/player Cum Posey. Sell joined the Grays as pitcher for two years before leading his own teams. As rival baseball team owners Hall and Posey competed fiercely for players raiding each others rosters and suing each other in court. Sell’s American Giants team played at the 4,000 seat Central Park baseball stadium located at Wylie Avenue and Chauncey Street. When Sell purchased the Central Park stadium in 1923 it became the first African American owned baseball park in Pittsburgh’s history.
Milestones and Markers 2011
• Pittsburgh music enthusiast Paul Carosi unveiled an impressive encyclopedia of local music and put it online as a Pittsburgh Music History virtual museum.
By Rege Behe, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, October 8, 2011
click to enlarge
Lance Jones has stories to tell. Paul Cramer wants to keep one of Pittsburgh's most beloved radio stations alive. And Paul Carosi burns a torch for the city's most cherished -- and, sometimes, forgotten -- music icons.
In the past year, each has launched a website devoted to some aspect -- in Carosi's case, the whole kit-and-caboodle -- of Pittsburgh music history.
Jones' site, musicasaurus.com, features recollections from his career as director of advertising for National Record Mart, the defunct Pittsburgh-based chain of record stores, and from jobs at Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheatre (now First Niagara Pavilion), first as director of marketing, then general manager. His posts include reviews of live concert DVDs, virtual mixtapes and behind-the scenes anecdotes.
"I love reliving this stuff," Jones says.
Recently, he posted stories about the first Lollapalozza Tour to play Pittsburgh in 1992 ("a complete $ucce$$") and the WDVE Friday Night Rocker of 1992 featuring Blue Oyster Cult, Jefferson Starship, Molly Hatchett and Leslie West, for which ticket sales were so low the venue cut the quality of catering services.
Another recent entry is about a poster National Record Mart commissioned in 1982 to benefit the March of Dimes. The poster featured Donnie Iris, Joe Grushecky, Norman Nardini, Pete Hewlett, Bob Corbin and Dave Hanner, Frank Czuri, Billy Price and Rick Granati of G-Force.
"When I started thinking about the guys who are represented on the poster, and look at that assemblage of talent and what they were doing at that time ... this was a musical stew and all these people were on the verge bursting out on the national scene," Jones says.
The X reborn
When WXXP-FM ended its short broadcast life in 1988, Cramer, one of the on-air talents, bought the station's music library. He's kept this trove of alternative music for the past 23 years, waiting for the right moment to resurrect what was, in its brief heyday, one of Pittsburgh's most beloved radio stations.
In January of this year, he re-launched WXXP at www.live365.com to coincide with the station's 25th anniversary. The stars of the day, R.E.M. and U2, are featured prominently, along with lesser-known bands including Pylon and Martha & the Muffins.
"The question was: Should it just be a nostalgia thing; do people just want to relive their youth?" says Cramer, who lives just outside of New York City. "But rather than be forced to listen to stuff that people might not appreciate, it just seemed like a good idea that we should continue playing current music by artists who were popular during Double-X's time. Whereas, you might have only heard the first solo album by Morrissey on Double-X, now you would hear his entire catalog mixed in, along with that of the Smiths."
The web-based station features rebroadcasts of shows from the 1980s featuring the original disc jockeys, and promotional spots recorded by musicians, including Bananarama, Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons, Andy Gill of Gang of Four, Belinda Carlisle and David Bowie. The iconic station logo -- two black side-by-side X's on a field of bright color -- is featured prominently.
"I think the impression that a new culture and a new music had really stirred up a lot of people," Cramer says. "I think we made a difference, but not necessarily in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has stayed the same through the years. But the people who listened to Double-X were definitely inspired from their listening habits. They really took to heart the whole explosion of new music that was coming out at the time. The people who listened to Double-X thought they were special; they thought they were individuals, and as unique as the music itself."
Riffing on history
A few weeks ago, Carosi received an e-mail about The Rave-Ups, a band with Pittsburgh roots he'd not known about. Headed by singer and guitarist Jimmer Podrasky, a student at Carnegie Mellon University, the band relocated to Los Angeles and became darlings of the Hollywood set. Podrasky met Molly Ringwald when he was dating her sister, Beth, and the band appeared in the movie "Pretty in Pink."
After tracking down some of the band's music, Carosi thought, 'Wow, those are great songs,' and added the band to his website, Pittsburgh Music History (sites.google.com/site/pittsburghmusichistory), which he calls a "virtual museum." The entries span all genres, including rock 'n' roll, classical, jazz, blues, country and R&B.
Carosi, who lives in Mt. Lebanon and works for IBM, devotes a few hours to each of the profiles on the site. He's traced the roots of Pittsburgh music to the early 1800s, with sections about William Evans, W.C. Peters and Henry Kleber, who were instrumental in shaping the city's music heritage in the early 19th century. Carosi's interest in this period was spurred when he helped with multimedia presentations of the Charles McCollister book "The Point of Pittsburgh."
"It got me into looking at Pittsburgh differently," Carosi says. "It got me thinking about tracing back how music developed in Pittsburgh. His book inspired me."
The site includes musical nuggets of all stripes. Carosi's research revealed that Pittsburgh was the first public school district in Pennsylvania -- and the fifth in the United States -- to offer music education. And he was especially surprised to discover the heights of popularity attained by Pittsburgh-born composer and pianist Oscar Levant.
"He sold out stadiums," Carosi says. "You can't imagine that happening today in classical music."
The passion remains
When Jones launched musicasaurus, he wasn't sure whether there would be feedback or reaction beyond his circle of friends. He's been pleased at how the site has been received, from former co-workers and music fans, in general. He's happy that his daughters, Moira, 26, and Maeve, 23, and their friends have taken to the site.
"I love having this as a record for my daughters," Jones says. "They may have heard a little bit about (some of the stories), but they never had fleshed-out versions from my own mind."
The passion for WXXP never has ebbed among a constituency of listeners who were just coming of age during the mid-1980s. So, news that the station was being resurrected in a new medium was greeted with enthusiasm.
"People were beside themselves at just the mention of Double-X coming back," Cramer says. "The fact that it's on the Internet at this time seems to be fairly apt. Double-X was cutting edge at that time. It was something that Pittsburgh and most of the United States had never seen or heard, unless you lived in a big city. Now, with broadband Internet, and Internet radio moving into cars, it's kind of a repeat. It's bringing something that was cutting edge to a new cutting-edge technology."
About the writer
Many thanks to the Readers of the Pittsburgh Music History website site. Since the launch of the site in the Spring of 2011 there have been 6,261 unique visitors who have read over 19,000 pages. Sixty percentage of the visitors are finding the site through Google searches. Twenty percent are visiting from the Pittsburgh Music History Facebook page, TheDeadRockstarsclub.com and links from the Beaver County Times online and the Post Gazette. Our thanks to Scott Tady and Scott Mervis for their support. During the past few months over 1,000 people have visited monthly and have read an average of 2,000 pages per month. Thanks for you interest in the many great musicians from the Pittsburgh area and for helping to remember them. Please tell your friends about this site and visit us on Facebook
The 25 most frequently read pages:
Music Writers Scott Mervis and Andrew Druckenbrod discuss the Pittsburgh Music History Website on their weekly Video Blog “The Beat”.
Scott Tady | Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2011 12:15 am
A western Pennsylvania music museum is as close as your computer or handheld device.
Welcome to the virtual Pittsburgh Music Museum launched online by Beaver Falls native Paul Carosi.
Visitors to sites.google.com/site/pittsburghmusichistory can study photos, stories, videos, audio clips and timelines outlining the region’s rich musical heritage.
Carosi runs a musical thread from 19th-century composers Stephen Foster and Ethelbert Nevin to jazz artists Art Blakey, Earl Hines and Billy Strayhorn, through the doo wop and pop of the Marcels and Skyliners, to the world beat of Rusted Root to today’s hiphop and laptop musical stars, Wiz Khalifa and Girl Talk.
“Music is one of Pittsburgh’s greatest lasting exports to the world,” said Carosi, a local music buff whose virtual museum began humbly in 2005 as a single webpage.
Today’s multi-page site features plenty of Beaver Valley artists.
•Papa John Creach, a Beaver Falls native who played violin for Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna.
•Florence Wickham, a Beaver opera star and early classical recording artist.
•Henry Mancini, the Aliquippa graduate who won 20 Grammies and four Oscars.
•The Harmonist Society Orchestra, one of the first symphonies in America.
•The Jaggerz, who scored a No. 2 Billboard hit with “The Rapper.”
•The Steals Brothers, Melvin and Mervin, Aliquippa siblings who wrote the Spinners’ 3-million selling “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love?”
•Dusty Drake, the Monaca native who scored the country hits “Say Yes” and “One Last Time” and who co-wrote the 1996 Joe Diffie single “C-O-U-N-T-R-Y.”
•The Granati Brothers, who opened 78 show for Van Halen and recorded on A&M Records
•Donnie Iris, the local rock icon who charted on Billboard with “Ah Leah!” and “Love Is Like A Rock.”
•B.E.Taylor, the Aliquippa native who recorded for MCA Records and whose annual Christmas shows are a Pittsburgh tradition.
“If you know of other influential Beaver County musicians who should be remembered in the Pittsburgh Music History website, I would welcome your suggestions,” Carosi said.
Read More at: http://www.timesonline.com/entertainment/beaver-falls-native-launches-virtual-music-museum/article_6266cf78-d91c-5273-9c41-f1a80574b01d.html
Thursday, May 12, 2011
By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh music enthusiast Paul Carosi has written an impressive encyclopedia of local music and put it online as a Pittsburgh Music History virtual museum.
It chronicles the development of the region's music history from the settling of the Harmonists in the 1700s to the folk music of Stephen Foster in the 1800s to the jazz era, through doo-wop and rock all the way up to the Modey Lemon, Anti-Flag and Wiz Khalifa.
The site features a rolling history, profiles of the major players, concise chronologies and Pittsburgh firsts -- including commercial radio station (KDKA), pop composer (Foster) and Album of the Year Grammy winner (Henry Mancini).
"I began building it online in the fall," says Mr. Carosi, who runs the Internet station radiofreetunes.com, "and finished the timeline and other major sections in the last two weeks. It is a work in progress, as I will be adding more honoree profiles."
He says the process was enlightening even for him.
"One of the patterns that emerged as I wrote the artists profiles was the influence of classical music on both the white and African-American artists," he says. "The whites went off to Europe to study classical and begin their performing careers. The African Americans like Billy Strayhorn, Earl Hines, and Papa John Creach who wanted to be classical musicians were barred from the classical music world ... so they went into jazz. Mary Dawson fought back and founded her own opera company to give African-Americans the opportunity to perform classical music."
Another pattern, he says, was the number of Pittsburgh child prodigies.
"Given Pittsburgh's classical music culture, music programs in the schools, supportive parents, lively nightclub culture and support from KDKA radio, these talented individuals had the opportunity to learn and perform in Pittsburgh before they went off to New York or Hollywood to make it big. Billy Strayhorn, Earl Hines, Earl Wild, Lorin Maazel, Mary Lou Williams, Henry Mancini and others were natural-born talents."
Pittsburgh Music History site can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/pittsburghmusichistory.