Brewed On Grant: Patients First

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Governor Tom Corbett has finally brought Harrisburg in to referee the UPMC/Highmark fight. I hope it isn't just an attempt to gain some positive press. I hope it is a real intervention. 

061114 Patients First2


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Paul Stanley: Jann Wenner embarrassed himself at Rock Hall

Written by Scott Mervis on .


Paul Stanley of Kiss is on a conference call right now (Tuesday) with the print media. Here's what he has to say about his book, "Face the Music: A Life Exposed," and tour with Def Leppard, which stops at the First Niagara Pavilion on Aug. 24.

Changes for this tour: "I believe this is the greatest and the best stage that we’ve ever had... We call it the spider stage, because the lights are in shape of a spider and legs dangle down to the floor."

Residency in Vegas?: "Time tells all."

On Def Leppard: "Always tried to have great bands on tour with us. We want to make sure people get their money’s worth. A night of great music, songs that you know, that you connect with personally. Huge catalog of hits that all mean something."

Refreshing to be back to that after drama with Rock Hall?: “[Hall of Fame] was not much more than a mosquito buzzing around my ear... no small organization with a big name can call the shots ... Hall of fame is ultimately what the people decide is in the Hall of Fame. It was an interesting divergence of what we do.”

New book - Were you happy about how it turned out: “I would have to be happy about the way it turned out, because I wrote it ... It was great to document something that I believed could inspire other people.”

Loyalty of fans: “You can’t have the kind of dedication we have from fans unless they sense the same dedication [from the band]... We may not always do what makes every fan happy, but we stick to our guns. ... More people than I can count that have Kiss tattoos. That’s like being a lifer in the army... Kiss Army started on the street. No army like a Kiss army.”

Nashville: "I love what Nashville has grown into, which is an embrace of all music."

On the Information Age: "I think that certainly in all walks of life, there’s a certain mystique that is gone ... Not sure Kiss could have accomplished what we did in this time ... We could make sure that photos weren't available ... we could create this mystique which was not unlike the mystique of Hollywood."

Tom Morello: "Saw him about 10 days ago. It was his 50th birthday. Tom was Moses in terms of having us inducted, or indicted. Tom did a stellar job."

Visit Hall of Fame?: "Up until now, I wanted little to do with it. " He said "it was an annex that wanted our memorabilia to [make money]. At this point, I would love to see it."

Fans and band: "We have outlived [the critics] and in essence have taken over."

Military: "Can't say enough about the people who served on our behalf... There's nothing corny about patriotism... You only see people going under the borders to get into this country."

Age ranges: "Source of pride for us that we can have a 6-year-old, a 16-year-old and a 60-year-old."

On loss of anonymity: "You don't complain about taxes if you win the lottery. It never was a source of stress or point of contention, but we in some ways are so much bigger now. Now we are Superman and don't have hide behind Clark Kent."

Kiss songs: "All of these songs as songs of victory, songs that celebrate our winning. That we are are here 40 years later is a source of incredible pride... These are the songs of a battle won."

Arenas vs. Sheds: "We try to be observant of low-flying planes ... It doesn't change anything because what we do comes from the heart. ... Being outside during the summer is a terrific dichotomy/contrast to what we do. We've been doing this for 40 years, the reason why people still buy tickets to see the classic acts is you know we will deliver the goods."

On autotune acts: "You know damn well they will not be able to put on a show.... Don't want to hear this nonsense that it's impossible to dance around and sing. It didn't stop the Temptations, Tina Turner, James Brown."

How big a factor was the spectacle in Hall of Fame induction: "I'm not here to defend what we've done or what we've accomplished, but it is unanimous and resounding ... countless artists were influenced by us, musically, not in terms of a stage show.... [he mentions Jann Wenner having lost his passion for music and his sarcastic intro of Kiss (which was 'From New York, in platform shoes and tight pants, Kiss!'] He's embarrassing himself, the joke's on him ... Nobody will ultimately buy for decades music that isn't good."

Hall of Fame: "It was vindicating for us, and vindicating for the fans. .. for every clueless music exec there are musicians, be it Tom Morello or Joe Perry or a list that literally is a who's who of music, those are the people who got us in.... It was the pencil pushers who wanted us out."


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X (and Exene) coming to Altar Bar in August

Written by Scott Mervis on .

XVintage XIt's a great day if you love the '80s.

First, we learn that J Mascis is releasing his new album, "Tied to a Star," on Aug. 26 and playing Club Cafe Oct. 15.

Now, we have an X show coming our way.

The classic LA punk band will take over Altar Bar on Aug. 31, with tickets going on sale Friday at

The X faithful will probably be able to overlook singer Exene Cervenka's recent crazy tweets about the Santa Barbara shooting being a staged hoax for gun control and get another dose from Billy Zoom and the band, which was in near vintage form playing the Rex in 2008.

Although X regroups to tour on occasion, the last album was 1993's "Hey Zeus," as Exene and John Doe (who were married from 1980-85) have been pursuing solo work. 

The band was on stage at SXSW in March when a man drove his car into a crowd, killing four people outside the club.


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Garden expert Niki Jabbour coming to Phipps

Written by Doug Oster on .

Blog Niki in GardenI first became aware of Canadian garden writer and radio host Niki Jabbour when she asked me to appear on her Weekend Gardener radio program several years ago.

Since I somehow screwed up the actual time of the interview, I missed my opportunity to be on her show. I felt awful, but Niki was kind enough to have me on the show a couple weeks later.
Talking with her on the show, I felt I'd found a kindred spirit, she was growing all winter just like me and had just released her first book The Year Round Vegetable Garden.
She visited our area before, where I met her briefly at the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs. It was ironic that we could only talk for a few minutes, both of us were speakers and booked solid.
It was in Indianapolis for the Garden Writers of America's annual symposium a few years ago where we really got to know each other. She asked me write something for her new book Groundbreaking Food Gardens. I honored to be included and thrilled that my radio partner Jessica Walliser was also asked to write something for the book.
Since then Niki has teamed with Jess and two other garden writers for Savvy Gardening, a very cool gardening blog.
Phipps and the Penn State Extension will host Niki for the Summer Short Course on gardening.
Save $10 by registering by June 15th.
Do yourself a favor and attend this event, you won't be sorry. Niki is a great speaker filled with a wealth of gardening information. She's been my inspiration for improving my early, late season and winter garden.
Here are all the details-
Phipps and Penn State Extension Welcome Celebrated Garden Writer Niki Jabbour to Pittsburgh
Summer Short Course gives local gardeners a chance to learn from one of the nation’s leading experts.


Pittsburgh, Pa.  On July 10, 2014Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and Penn State Extension will present a special Summer Short Course with nationally renowned garden writer Niki Jabbour at historic Botany Hall on the Phipps campus in Oakland. Ideal for both professional and home gardeners, this day of lively and informative lectures will cover a variety of topics related to maximizing and extending the harvest season with proven year-round vegetable gardening techniques.
   A prolific garden writer whose work appears nationally in newspapers and magazines, including Fine GardeningHorticulture and The Heirloom Gardener, Jabbour won a 2012 American Horticultural Society Book Award for The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener — a debut work that has garnered readership across North America, as well as in the U.K., New Zealand and Australia. Her newest book, Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans that Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden, released in March, features a wide assortment of garden plans incorporating fruits, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and more. The topics she will cover as part of the Summer Short Course are:
·         The Super-Productive Vegetable Garden: Jabbour will spotlight easy, yet productive techniques to boost yield in a home garden, including intensive planting, inter-planting, vertical gardening and season extending. She will also share some of her top high-producing vegetables and herbs.
·         Year-Round Vegetable Gardening: Jabbour will offer an overview of gardening techniques that have turned her May to September garden into a year-round food factory, as well as spotlight her favorite season extenders: mulch, mini hoop tunnels, cold frames, row covers and more. 
·         Groundbreaking Food Gardens: Jabbour will demonstrate just how easy it is to grow more food by sharing techniques and designs for gardens that supply a long season of homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs. She will also offer ideas for a year-round salad garden, a gourmet potted patio, a fairytale garden for kids, a pollinator plot, and even a cocktail garden.
   Held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the Summer Short Course with Niki Jabbour includes coffee, lunch and all lectures at the cost of $85 per person on or before June 15 and $95 after with a limited number of spots open to university students for $50. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 412/441-4442, ext. 3925. For more details, and a complete schedule, visit



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J Mascis solo album, Club Cafe show on the way

Written by Scott Mervis on .

mascisThe latest project from J Mascis is going to be a lot easier on the ears -- at least volume-wise.

The Dinosaur Jr will leave the Marshall stacks at home for the tour that will back his new solo album, "Tied to a Star." It will be released on Aug. 26 by Sub Pop, and the singer-guitarist will follow that with a show at Club Cafe on Oct. 15.

"Tied to a Star," recorded and produced by Mascis and mixed by John Agnello at Bisquiteen in Amherst, MA, features appearances from Ken Maiuri (Young@Heart Chorus), Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion) and Chan Marshall (Cat Power).

It is available for preorder from Sub Pop Megamart, iTunes, and Amazon now. Preorders from will receive the limited edition "Loser" version on hot pink vinyl and an art print (while supplies last). Pre-order bundles are also available at, including limited edition merchandise.

Here is the track listing and a preview of the light acoustic song "Every Morning."

Tied to a Star
1. Me Again
2. Every Morning
3. Heal the Star
4. Wide Awake
5. Stumble
6. And Then
7. Drifter
8. Trailing Off
9. Come Down
10. Better Plane

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