New music festival puts Deutschtown center stage
Pittsburgh's various music scenes occasionally collect in certain neighborhoods, and the past few years have definitely been tilted toward Lawrenceville (and next-door Bloomfield). Whether it's folk/country/roots-rock at the Thunderbird or hip-hop smash-hits brewing at ID Labs, Lawrenceville is definitely on the map.
Could Deutschtown be next?
It has a ways to go, and the dense, historic, German-settled neighborhood around the small East Ohio Street commercial corridor, is still largely lumped in under the broad, unhelpful “North Side” moniker. But it has some interesting venues (and potential venues), and now the first Deutschtown Music Festival to give it a push.
Organizer Ben Soltesz, 40, who runs a small software firm for his day job, isn't even a musician. He's just a big fan of local music and the North Side — and thinks he found a way for both to benefit from some attention. The final lineup includes 48 bands/artists performing at 10 venues in one day.
“We saw the (Rock All Night) festival in Lawrenceville and were impressed,” Soltesz says. “My wife and I go to a lot of live music, and have been going to bluegrass nights at the Park House, the Elks Club on Wednesday nights. They pack them in there. Some new people have taken over James Street (Gastropub & Speakeasy) and they wanted to use their second-floor ballroom.
“We have so many walkable venues, and there's potential for more.”
Though the venues are all in a small seven-or-eight-block area, the performers are all over the map. They range from the clever indie-pop of Meeting of Important People, to the Neil Young/The Band-influenced rockers Harlan Twins — both at Allegheny Elks Lodge — to budding dance-music stars Tracksploitation at Artists Image Resource. There's jazz at James Street Speakeasy from Al Dowe & Etta Cox, old-school country at Max's Allegheny Tavern's basement rathskeller with Lonesome Bob & The Socially Inept, and the totally self-explanatory Weird Paul Rock Band at Peanutz.
Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7901.