All posts by Kari

Pittsburgh girl who spent some time in Orlando and Philly on my way back home. Love rock music and going to see live acts. Having just moved back to Pittsburgh, I'm just discovering new places to see bands in the area but am excited to try new places and see new bands.

A Little Banjo Love

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Over the last two years, I’ve noticed a new trend in some popular rock music… the banjo. Long relegated to bluegrass and country music, the banjo is appearing in many indie rock band lineups these days. Whether it be a feature in one song or an album with several songs showcasing the banjo, these bands are working to make the instrument cool.

Two of my favorite bands these days, The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons, feature the banjo prominently in several songs. Most notably, Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons which made the radio rounds in 2010. I had the pleasure of seeing the Avett Brothers live back in November at Orlando Calling and was struck by how well they incorporated the unassuming banjo into their music. It fit seamlessly into their sound and totally rounded it out.  The Avett Brothers album I and Love and You showcases the banjo prominently and I highly recommend it.

A little tour around the internet and I found some other great indie bands who have some banjo love going on. Modest Mouse and Sufjan Stevens to just name two more.  What’s the moral of the story… I love it when bands incorporate different instruments into their repertoire!  It keeps things interesting.  What bands that you enjoy feature interesting instruments?

Bobby Long Concert in the ‘Burgh

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So, after some prodding from the editor, I finally have a show to write about for RARA’s.  I recently moved back to the Pittsburgh area, so am in the process of developing a social life and finding fun places to go for live music.  Going into this show, I didn’t have any intention of writing an article about it, as I knew very little about Bobby Long. A friend of mine asked me to go to the show with her as she had stumbled across his music while wandering around the internet one night, and I agreed, because I love discovering new people and I adore British singers for some reason.

I was optimistic… the location of the concert was absolutely my speed, a small bar in the South Side of Pittsburgh called Club Cafe. It only holds about 100 people max, and was set up with small tables and some bar stools. We sat in the second row, and I love having the chance to be up close and personal with musicians.

After the opening act, Bobby Long got on stage. Just him, his guitar and harmonica. The best description of his music that I can come up with is a cross between rock, blues and folk. It’s not a hard rock sound by any stretch, but his faster songs will have you tapping your foot to the beat. His lyrics are heartfelt and seem to hint at experiences beyond what a normal 24 year old should have. He told stories in between songs that were funny and gave some insight into his personality. His guitar playing is impressive both live an on cd.

Two of his songs really stuck with me, one titled “Who Have You Been Loving” and “Penance Fire Blues” (video of it live from a different show. The second is the most he rocked out during the evening and is just a great song overall.

At the end of the night, after playing for about an 90 minutes straight, he was done for the evening, and went to a small table to sell shirts, posters and CDs. After that show, I knew I wanted a CD, so after a brief wait in line, I bought my copy and Bobby signed my CD and posed for a picture.

This young musician is just starting out, and I personally think that this is someone a lot of people will be talking about in the next one to two years. So I’ll hold on to my picture and autographed CD (that also has my name spelled correctly on it!) so that I can say that I saw him before he hit it big.

Kari