Musicians plan Dylan show to benefit Art Nardini

Written by Scott Mervis on .

Art Nardini photo

The Pittsburgh music community will rally for longtime Houserockers bassist Art Nardini on Sunday, Sept. 25 at the Rex Theater on the South Side.

Nardini suffered serious injuries from an accident on April 26, a few days before he was to appear at the Pittsburgh Rock and Roll Legends Awards.

The concert will also salute Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday, with musicians performing favorite Dylan songs. Joining in will be Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, Scott Blasey, Rob James and Greg Joseph of The Clarks, Randy Baumann, Rick Witkowski, Frank Czuri, Bill Deasy, Herman Granati, Marc Reisman, Matthew Ryan, Nathan Zoob, Nevin James, John Vento and more to be announced.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door and available now at

Photographer Danny Clinch has donated a photo portrait of Bob Dylan to be raffled off at the concert. Donations can also be made to or send a check made payable to Art Nardini to Art Nardini c/o Joe Grushecky Box 14762, Pittsburgh, PA 15234.

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Steel City Con brings Christopher Lloyd, Tom Felton, Michael Rooker and more to Monroeville

Written by Sharon Eberson on .


Scenes from the Steel City Con 8/13/16 

1:15 p.m. — Arrive for 2 p.m. panel with Christopher Lloyd. There are still lines to get in, but the Monroeville Convention Center is nearing capacity at 6,000. Dominic Alessandria of Orangestone Promotions, who oversees the big toys/collectibles/celebrities convention is going up and down the line and getting parents with children into the shade or inside. He’s wearing a long-sleeved button-down light-blue shirt — the same type of shirt Tom Felton will later take off and get down to a white T-shirt. The artist’s area and main floor were cool, but in the Q&A room, the air-conditioning was not doing its job most of the day. They got that fixed as I was leaving, of course.

Inside, it’s a Harley Quinn attack. Every female geek of all shapes and sizes wants to be Margot Robbie in “Suicide Squad.” I spot eight in full-color outfits, hair, makeup and all, and three with accompanying Jokers. There are a lot of people in full costume, including a couple of Deadpools, and I worry about them in this heat. They don’t seem to mind.


1:55 p.m. — Christopher Lloyd arrives early, after a short film that reminds me he was the villain in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” How could I forget? He’s in a dark T-shirt and jeans, his long gray-white hair combed back and tame, as he struts up and down the stage with a wireless mic. He goes off on tangents and mumbles a bit on almost every question, in a kind of charming, kind of hard to hear Reverend Jim/Doc Brown way. 

  • He talks about being a New York stage actor and swearing he’d never do a sitcom when he got out to Hollywood — before “Taxi” came along. 
  • A fan asks him about being the only Klingon to destroy the Enterprise (a friend of mine argues that Kirk actually did the destroying, but we won’t go there) and he says he came home to his then girlfriend and jumped up and down on the bed and shouted it: “I destroyed the Enterprise!” He liked the makeup, too. He also says he had heard that “Kirk” (William Shatner) was difficult and was wary when he came to the set, but that they had a choreographed fight to do and had a grand time together. 
  • On “Back to the Future” (the cast will reunite in Chicago next weekend, he says as an aside), the surprise is that his favorite movie is No. 3: because it was a Western and that was lots of fun, and Doc got to have a romance. He was in a bad place when he got the initial script and threw it away, but eventually got a meeting with Robert Zemekis, “And that was it.” 
  • He says his first-ever movie role, as Taber in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” is something he’s never been able to find again, for the pure, stripped-down nature of it — and the danger.

2016ConDobby3 p.m. — Tom Felton (top) is supposed to come into the Q&A room at 3, and I want to save my seat, although I haven’t walked among the goodies yet. They announce that the line for his autograph and picture is very long and he’s taking time with every fan, so it’s looking like it won’t be until 3:15 (later they say 3:30). They also announce that the air-conditioning has been cranked up, but it will take time to cool off the desert in there. I’m melting and the nice person next to me says she will watch my seat while I run for water.

In line to buy a bottled water and there is what sounds like a huge explosion — a thunderclap — and you hear lots of people mumble “Thor” (only at comic con). Then the cash register goes out and they stop taking orders, but I ask if it’s OK if we have exact change, and those of us who do (most of us) get what we came for.

3:30ish p.m. — Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy and the future Julian Dorn on The CW’s “The Flash,” arrives to a very enthusiastic crowd, and he charms them from his first “Hello, darling” to a questioner. I am angry with myself for not getting in line to ask a question, but I want the paying customers to get all of theirs in — no one asks about “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” even when asking what kind of father Draco would be. He says better than his father, having been through such a rough childhood with Lucius Malfoy. “I think you see some of that in the train station scene [in ‘Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows 2’] when he’s with [his son] Scorpius, he says. 

  • He says he had never read the books when, at age 11, he auditioned for first Harry, then Ron and finally Draco, and director Christopher Columbus must have known it from the answers he gave to certain questions. Asked if he ever got advice from J.K. Rowling, he says he she wasn’t around the set much, although her remembers teaching a game to her daughter Mackenzie, and “Jo and I didn’t really become friends until after it was over.”
  • His favorite character — other than Draco — is Gilderoy Lockhart, the foppish fraud played by Kenneth Branagh in the film series. "I’d watch a spinoff of that," he says, with Branagh playing the character.
  • He leads the room in "Happy Birthday" for a fan and points out an adorable toddler dressed up with Dobby ears. When someone asks how she might work for him, he politely says thanks, but he’s doing fine. 
  • He has been killed off in a few roles since the “HP” series, including a death by ape in “Planet of the Apes.” He says motion-cap actor extraordinaire Andy Serkis takes that sort of thing very seriously. "My mother hates it when I get killed," he says of his screen deaths. 
  • He says he has completed several episodes as Julian on "The Flash" and is very enthusiastic about audiences seeing his "spiffy" character. He likens Grant Gustin’s role on set of "The Flash" to Daniel Radcliffe’s on the "Harry Potter" films — they are leaders, and everyone takes their cues from them. He also says Radcliffe was the prankster behind the scenes of the HP movies.

Who knew Draco would grow up to be such a charmer?

4 p.m. — I am ready to melt, and run to air-conditioning before the Lou Ferrigno panel. Sorry big guy. 


4:30 p.m. — Hang around where Michael Rooker ("The Walking Dead”; “Guardians of the Galaxy"; above with Steely City Con wrestling celebs) is going to be signing autographs to say hi after he had been so much fun during a phone interview. Dominic comes by, and he says how supportive the municipality of Monroeville has been to Steel City, it’s biggest convention. Although they are at capacity, he likes it here because he can keep prices down, compared to Downtown, and parking is free. 

Across the row from Rooker's autograph booth are Angie Dickinson, Martin Landau and Anthony Michael Hall - a fascinating trio, right? 

Rooker arrives dressed in a leather jacket and not sweating. Grrr. He greets me like a long-lost friend and insists on giving me a token — in the form of an autographed picture of his gross monster from “Slither.” He’s a hoot, and the fans lined up are in for a treat.


5 p.m. — While Rooker has made his way before the throng in the Q&A room, I am walking the floor, but my heart isn’t into shopping at this point, despite all the steampunk jewelry and action figures. I just want to look for the interesting, the weird, the inspiring. Then I see fully outfitted Thor and Loki walking together like buddies, Thor’s red cape waving behind him. They head to the water fountain. Hopefully, they also are headed to the Steel City Con costume contest Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. 

Follow me on Twitter: @SEberson_pg.


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Rostrum cuts deal with Caroline, signs 3 new artists

Written by Scott Mervis on .


miketaylorMike TaylorRostrum Records, the Pittsburgh label that broke Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller, has signed a partnership deal with Capitol-owned indie distributor Caroline, according to Billboard.

The label, founded Squirrel Hill-native and Allderdice grad Benjy Grinberg, who splits his time between Pittsburgh and LA, also has added three new artists in Philadelphia singer Mike Taylor (“Electric Church”), electro-pop trio Bråves (twin Australian vocalists Jericho and Thorald of The Wood and producer Johnny What) and West Coast MC Juliann Alexander.

They join the Rostrum roster of The Bird and the Bee, Mod Sun, TeamMate and Vali. Khalifa, who is signed to Rostrum via Atlantic Records, sued Rostrum earlier this year for release from his 360-deal. Miller left Rostrum after two albums and signed to Warner Bros.

"They are continuing to build an amazing team and we're looking forward to launching our new artists and growing our label with them,” Grinberg said of Caroline in a statement.


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Pittsburgh-born widow of Marvel's Mark Gruenwald makes hometown appearances

Written by Sharon Eberson on .



Starting Friday, is auctioning a portrait titled "20 Years Tribute to Mark Gruenwald, Mr. Marvel" (above) by David Banegas."

The ToonSeum exhibition "Captain America: 75 Years of the Sentinel of Liberty" is coming to a close with a special event Saturday night at 7.


Catherine Schuller-Gruenwald, widow of "Captain America" writer and Marvel executive editor Mark Gruenwald, is returning to her hometown to greet fans at the ToonSeum and do Ash-o-graph stamping of a commemorative piece created for the New York City Marvel tribute in June. The stamp of Mr. Gruenwald's signature, invented by his widow, contains ink and her husband's cremains.

Mark Gruenwald got his start publishing his own fanzine and writing articles for DC Comics' official fanzine. In 1977, he was hired by Marvel Comics, where he worked until his death on Aug. 12, 1996. One of his wishes was to have his ashes mixed with printer's ink, according to the New York Post, and Ms. Schuller-Gruenwald has helped grant his wish by creating the Ash-o-graph stamp.

His ashes were added to the first print run of the "Squadron Supreme" trade paperback, one of Mr. Gruenwald's most successful projects for Marvel. 

Ms. Schuller-Gruenwald, who attended South Hills High School and Chatham University, on Wednesday scattered "two scoops of Gru" at the base of a 13-foot-tall statue of Captain America following an unveiling ceremony in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, according to the Post.




The ToonSeum event is free and beverages will be available; more on Facebook.



Ms. Schuller-Gruenwald also will make an appearance at New Dimension Comics, Pittsburgh Mills, from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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ESG, Rakim to headline 2016 VIA Festival

Written by Scott Mervis on .





The 7th annual VIA Festival, known for its cutting-edge blend of genres and merging of music, art and technology, will take place Oct. 6-9 at the Ace Hotel in East Liberty.

The marquee performers will be New York post-punk band ESG (making its Pittsburgh debut), rapper Rakim (of Eric B. and Rakim) performing the classic “Paid in Full” album and New York model/artist/DJ Juliana Huxtable.


The lineup will also feature Ben UFO, Empress Of, Midland, Chino Amobi, Aye Nako, Rabit, Lee Bannon, Negative Gemini, Fielded, Ghost Cop, Ladymonix, Eris Drew and Fee Lion.

For now, VIP and Festival Passes are available at Individual show tickets will be available at a later date.

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