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Mt. Pleasant Township native leads indie rock band

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Members of the indie rock band Nevada Color include bass guitarist Chris Cichra (left); drummer Jeremy Westhead; lead guitarist Adam Valen; lead vocalist Quinn Wirth, a Mt. Pleasant Township native and a 2010 Mt. Pleasant Area graduate; and rhythm guitarist Max Kovalchuk, a 2010 graduate of Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School.

Ever since Quinn Wirth was a toddler, those who know him best have said he can carry quite a tune.

At just 2 12, Wirth, a 22-year-old from Mt. Pleasant Township, first exhibited that skill by belting out an attention-grabbing version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during an informal talent show at Ligonier Camp and Conference Center.

“I've always felt Quinn would do something in music,” said Leslie Wirth, Quinn's mother.

Time and again, Wirth — a 2010 Mt. Pleasant Area graduate — proved his mother's outlook to be a prophetic one.

On May 9, Wirth, the lead vocalist of Nevada Color, a Pittsburgh-based indie rock band, will celebrate the release of the group's first full-length album “Adventures” at an album release party at Dave's Music Mine in the Southside section of the city.

“It's pretty exciting,” said Wirth, who will also graduate later this month from Point Park University downtown with a degree in cinematic and digital arts.

A single from the 10-track album titled “New Mexico” has been featured on 105.9 WXDX-FM and 91.3 WYEP-FM.

“Since the release of our single, we have been picked up by a couple media sources,” said Adam Valen, 20, of Pittsburgh — the band's lead guitarist.

One such publication included the April edition of WHIRL Magazine, which featured Bruce Springsteen on its cover.

“We are really trying to build up a connection to our hometown fan base,” Valen said.

The rest of the band includes rhythm guitarist Max Kovalchuk, 21, of Monessen, a 2010 graduate of Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School; bass guitarist Chris Cichra, 21, of Mt. Lebanon; and drummer Jeremy Westhead, 21, of Mt. Lebanon.

A gift for song emerges early

At age 16, Wirth's burgeoning talent for singing was something he still kept pretty close to the vest.

“I would sing to myself, and all my friends knew I could hold a note, but that was it,” he said.

Then Wirth's gift put him in the position to begin leading youth praise and worship services at his family's church, Word of Life Ministry in Greensburg.

He also started playing the piano.

“I learned a little bit from my mother. I took some lessons, too, but I eventually quit that and taught myself,” he said. “I can't read music, but I can play most anything by ear.”

Wirth added that he uses the piano to serve as a reference in the band's writing process.

During services for his church, which counts 1,000 members, Wirth said he grew accustomed to performing music before many.

Such exposure while performing helped prepare Wirth for his next step in music.

Group wins local talent shows

In 2009, Wirth's junior year at Mt. Pleasant Area, he started a band with bassist and classmate Mike Hricik; drummer and fellow Mt. Pleasant Area student Richard Snyder; and guitarist Drew Bayura, a Southmoreland graduate.

The group wound up winning first place at the Mt. Pleasant Township Lions Club Talent Contest held at the school.

“We played ‘When You Were Young' by The Killers. That band has played a big part in my personal interest in music,” Wirth said.

In 2010, the band again was recognized as the contest's winner with a rendition of Elton John's “Crocodile Rock.”

That year, Wirth said he and Hricik also performed a benefit concert at the high school auditorium for the American Red Cross that raised $600.

“We only charged $3 or $4 a ticket, so there was a pretty good turnout,” he said.

College creates ideal environment

At Point Park, Wirth met Cichra, a fellow cinema major, who was at the time was playing in another band with Kovalchuk.

“Chris knew I could sing, so he asked me if I wanted to start a band and we started practicing the end of my sophomore year,” Wirth said.

By summer of 2012, Nevada Color played its first show at the Smiling Moose in the Southside.

That fall, the band entered the “On The Verge Music Tour” held at the Altar Bar in the city's Strip District and placed second.

“I think that kind of established our Pittsburgh music presence. That was like the first big show,” Wirth said.

Now the group is preparing to embark on a 20-date tour of the East Coast and Midwestern portions of the country ... a long way from the Ligonier Camp & Conference Center.

“I'm very pleased and proud of where Quinn has come ... but I can't say I'm surprised,” Leslie Wirth said. “I expect great things.”

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or

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