A few months back I was tagged in comments on a Facebook post. Kylie Thomas, a Freshman studying Journalism at Point Park University, had to write a journalistic style paper and wanted to focus it on the music scene and what it meant to those in the industry. I offered to help and tagged her in a post on my personal page that received a mountain of comments. The music scene isn’t just a business to those of us involved in it, it goes so much deeper than that. There’s a story behind the music, the people, and the bonds created by being a part of something more than ourselves. It is my pleasure to publish the paper that Kylie turned in.
Look for more of her work as she has been accepted here at FAM as a new writer. <3
– Jana Lee Macheca
Big City, Big Heart, Big Music
Jana Macheca knows that the Pittsburgh local music scene is unlike many others.
“In the Pittsburgh music scene there aren’t exactly cliques, it’s more like having a ton of aunts and uncles who have provided you with so many cousins you call them by genre instead of last name,” said Macheca, who operates First Angel Media, a local music magazine. “Rock, metal, punk, blues, it doesn’t matter, all we really need is to reach out to each other and the connection is there.”
While people might be easily divided along political, social, or cultural lines, music can still bring people together, especially the live music scene, several musicians in Pittsburgh say. Pittsburgh has one of the most communal live music scenes, and it takes a mix of all different kinds of people from different genres of music and brings them all together to form one singular community.
The Pittsburgh music scene has been a staple of this great city for decades. It’s been a place where all types of people can come together to explore one common interest: music. It’s become a place for people to express themselves and go beyond just the music. These people have created strong bonds, gone through networking opportunities that have changed their lives, and have been a part of a music scene which has shaped their whole being for the better.
Animus singer Natasha Michelle says that her involvement with the music scene helped her regain “a sense of self and identity.”
“Being a front-woman for bands allowed me to express my creativity, relieve stress, have fun, and meet some amazing people. The scene gave me the chance to be myself outside of a wife and mother and it means so much to still be supported by it,” Michelle said.
It only costs about $10 to walk into a local show with three to four bands. It’s a small price to experience the hype of the music scene in which these people speak of. And live music delivers a far different experience compared to recorded music.
“Most people don’t appreciate live local music, and they would rather have DJs or KJs,” said Travis Sabolik, a musician from Pittsburgh now living in Arizona.
Sabolik was lead guitarist and singer in the Pittsburgh-area band, Deadman’s Hand. “The music scene offers basic morals and ways of life that everyone enjoys, such as dignity, respect, prosperity, creative expression and the ability to welcome others who are different than you with open arms,” he said.
This same attitude cuts across those of every genre and part of the local music scene in Pittsburgh. Tracy Randall, who books Tuesday Blues Day for Wolfie’s Pub, which features local blues musicians, agrees with the community and lessons that the music scene brings.
“Since my program is on a Tuesday, when most working musicians are not playing their own gigs, other bands’ members come to Wolfie’s to support their friends who may be playing,” Randall said.
Even during the weekly Tuesday Blues Day, there’s a natural energy behind it.
“It’s high-energy for being so early in the evening. There is a mixed crowd of Blues’ fans, business-people enjoying a happy hour after work, and even some students, but it’s all certainly a lively atmosphere,” Randall said.
Fans can find a space in the music scene no matter who they are. It doesn’t matter if a person is a listener/fan, a musician, a writer, a photographer, or just a bystander who happened to catch a band playing at the bar, everyone can find a place of belonging. This “something-for-everyone” environment also allows the scene to thrive.
Macheca touches on just how vibrant the local music scene is, which often, many don’t see. “The scene is huge, yet people see it as small. Individuals are coming up with so many cool ways to grow the scene and make their bands, media companies and more as professional as possible,” she said, “Yet because there isn’t a huge company behind it, no one seems to understand the magnitude of what has been done here.”
People often underestimate the Pittsburgh music scene in general because they don’t understand it or they’ve never taken the chance to experience it.
Music gives people a place in the world, a voice, an understanding, an outlet, and so much more. It doesn’t hurt to go out and experience the immersion of the bass thumping in your chest and melody winding through your ears.
“I firmly encourage everyone to take some time and go check out local shows. Go support those who have a dream to share their thoughts with the public. Music is a beautiful thing, and without the support of the local communities, that beauty exists only within us musicians and never has an opportunity to reach out and touch others much like ourselves,” Sabolik said.
*** I have previous knowledge of the local scene and I am very passionate about local music scenes. I also played in a local pop-punk band within my own local music scene and have photographed as well as had close relationships with local bands. – Kylie Thomas
Jana Lee Macheca (aka Lady Jaye) is the owner and editor of First Angel Media as well as professional photographer and writer. Having worked in national and local levels of music media her goal is to provide professional coverage for bands of all levels.