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Ghost makes the underworld seem so pleasant

Written by Scott Mervis on .

 

ghost1And the winner for "Band That Looks Least like it Sounds" goes to ... Ghost.

The Swedish group dresses for a black mass with five Nameless Ghouls and an evil pope, Papa Emeritus II, but rather than sounding like a Darkthrone or a Mayhem, Ghost sounds like they were weaned on Blue Oyster Cult records, with their smooth vocals and melodic synched guitars.

The band, which played Stage AE on Good Friday, does add the touch of piped-in choral vocals in the "Carmina Burana" vein and Latin lyrics praising Lucifer.

It's a thrill when the lights go down and they emerge in full regalia, before their stained-glass cathedral backdrop, with "Infestissumam Per Aspera," the orchestral lead track from their second and latest album.

imageEven with black hoods and masks covering their faces, the musicianship is tight and Papa, who creeps around the stage with ceremonial gestures, is a gifted singer -- although you could hear multiple voices and he was the only one who appeared to be singing.

The problem with Ghost is that several songs in, the thrill fades and the energy starts to lag. A couple times, the musicians gathered center stage to jam but they don't move around much and Papa's interaction with the crowd is basically along the line of "Good evening. How are you feeling, Pittsburgh?" in a funny accent.

They broke up the set with their darkly plodding cover of "Here Comes the Sun" and later washed Roky Erickson's "If You Have Ghosts" in melody. I couldn't help but think about Kiss concerts, though, where you're sitting there going, "I can wait till Gene does ... "

ghostsetYou want Ghost to breathe fire (although you can't do that in a club) or spit blood or burn incense or sacrifice a crowd member or something evil. Maybe they should hire Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper or Marilyn Manson as their horror-prop consultant.

Even with a sing-along climax of "Come together, together as one/come together for Lucifer's son," Ghost makes the underworld seem so darn pleasant.

 

 

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Volcano Dogs has echoes of Eviction

Written by Scott Mervis on .

 

volcanodogsThree-fifths of Eviction will take the stage at the 31st Street Pub (Strip) Friday with the debut of Volcano Dogs, but don’t expect that same thrash-metal sound from the ’80s.

“Eviction was metal with some punk tossed in,” says bassist Ted Williams. “Volcano Dogs has some of that but we are definitely not thrash or metal or punk. This band is a mixture of all the music we grew up on, listened to and played in our various bands: metal, hard rock, punk, ’70s rock, Swedish rock scene, you name it. I think there is everything from AC/DC to the Dead Boys to the Hellacopters, Motorhead, the Stones, you name it.”

Volcano Dogs reunites Williams with guitarist Rob Tabachka and drummer Ron Reidell, and adds frontman Bruce Lentz from horror-rock band Forbidden 5.

“After Eviction broke up, we all went in some direction — some band, some life, the typical, ya know,” Williams says.

He and Tabachka formed Pilsner, and Tabachka also went on to play in Silver Tongue Devil and Kabuki Thunder.

Recently, the moment arrived for the trio to start working together again.

“Ron, who had focused on family life, went and bought a new drum kit,” Williams says. “Rob had a handful of riffs and played them to me and we started to just get a feel of maybe the time was right to try something. Rob brought up bringing in Bruce to try out writing some lyrics and it just started to come together from there.”

evictionpicEvictionThe three Eviction guys hadn’t played together since 1990, but Williams says, “We locked right in like it was 1989 again!”

With seemingly every band on Earth having reunited at some point, will Eviction ever bite?

“Maybe someday. We do have a vinyl LP release of the re-mastered ‘Who Will Win’ demo coming in late spring,” Williams says.

Also on the bill Friday at 10 p.m. are Thunder Vest and Del Rios.

 

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For the record, Monday is 'Jerry Weber Day' in Pittsburgh

Written by Scott Mervis on .

 

Jerry-Weber-and-his-son-WillieWillie and Jerry Weber with their R. Crumb drawingYou won’t see the smiling face of Jerry Weber behind the counter of Jerry’s Records on Monday morning (it's closed on Mondays anyway).

He’s been summoned to city council chambers, where he will be honored with the proclamation of Jerry Weber Day, in advance of Record Store Day on Saturday, April 19.

It’s kind of a make-good for Weber who has been in the business for almost 40 years and owns one of the nation’s most prestigious stores.

Last year, City Council President Bruce Kraus commemorated Record Store Day by recognizing Dave’s Music Mine, the South Side store within his District 3.

Weber says was he was giving Kraus, a longtime Jerry’s customer, a hard time, in a joking way, saying, “I gave Dave his start and he’s getting a proclamation!”

This year, Kraus called Weber and told him it was his turn.

“I was like, ‘Bruce, I was jagging you. I don’t care about a proclamation,” Weber says.

Nonetheless, he’ll be there happily on Monday morning, with son Willie, to accept.

Then, he’ll get back to the business of Jerry’s, which includes a Record Store Day giveaway on Saturday of 25,000 LPs and an expanded $1 sale at the Squirrel Hill vinyl mecca.

 

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Slim Forsythe launches Kickstarter for "Live From Nied's Hotel" TV pilot

Written by Scott Mervis on .

slimLet's not kid ourselves. Pittsburgh is hardly the mecca of country/bluegrass music, but Slim Forsythe is hoping to put it on the map. And on your TV.

The white-suited singer-songwriter, who started out here doing a Hank Williams tribute, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce and star in a country music variety television show called “Live from Nied’s Hotel,” which is Mr. Forsythe’s home base (and home) in Lawrenceville.

He hopes to raise $10,000 to produce a pilot episode, in conjunction with sound engineer Dino DiStefano, who worked on WQED TV’s “Live from Studio A” series and the Grammy-winning “Count Basie Orchestra with the New York Voices” album recorded at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.

Forsythe would host the show, with The Beagle Brothers (“the Architects of the Bloomfield Sound”) as the house band. The pilot’s special guest star would be Pittsburgh singer Molly Alphabet. “Live From Nied’s Hotel” would continue to showcase local and nationally touring acts.

“The show would bring you lots of classic country music... Western swing, honky tonk, mountain gospel, bluegrass, even a little rockabilly thrown in now and then,” Forsythe notes in the pitch for the Kickstarter, which runs through June 7 at www.kickstarter.com/projects/1504894374/country-music-tv-show-live-from-nieds-hotel

 

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Jack White to play Stage AE in July

Written by Scott Mervis on .

 

jackwhiteJack White will bring his solo band to Pittsburgh for the first time on July 27 for a show at Stage AE Outdoors.

Tickets ($45) go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at all Ticketmaster locations, charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.

The singer-songwriter-guitarist has played here several times as a member of the White Stripes and The Raconteurs, but did not stop here on the tour supporting his highly acclaimed 2012 solo debut, "Blunderbuss." That tour featured two different bands -- one all male (The Buzzards) and one all female (The Peacocks) -- that varied from night to night.

The Detroit native, now in based in Nashville where he runs his own label, "Third Man Records," will release his second solo album, "Lazaretto." on June 10. Last week he announced that he will attempt to set a Guinness world record for "the world's fastest-released record" by recording and releasing the album's title track on the same day.

Benjamin Booker opens on the Pittsburgh date.

 

 

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