Musical lists for fans of all note
It's that time of the year to compile lists. Naughty and nice. Dear Santa wish-lists. Things to do in 2017. Things to forget about 2016.
This edition of Music from Three Rivers is chock full of lists, starting with Rob O'Friel's Top 5 seasonal songs. O'Friel is the affable host of “Rollin' and Tumblin'” at 9 p.m. Saturdays on WYEP-FM. Next up, is my list of notable local music from 2016. And we'll end with a list of concerts in the area.
Rob O'Friel's Top 5 songs of the season
“The Chanukah Song” by Adam Sandler: Brilliantly funny lyrics and just a pretty good song overall.
“Run Rudolph Run” by Chuck Berry: My wife and I have a tradition of watching “Home Alone” on Thanksgiving night, so I associate this song as the start to the holiday season.
“Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley: I've never been a big Elvis fan, but this is one of my favorites by the King. Being a fan of the blues, I especially like how he uses the blues to send his message. This is one Christmas song I could listen to any time of the year.
“2000 Miles” by The Pretenders: This reminds me of my days doing college radio in the middle of winter at Edinboro University. Beautiful lyrics beautifully sung by the normally tougher-sounding Chrissie Hynde. The guitar makes it sound like the lake effect snow coming down as I trudged across a dark campus to see my future wife.
“Linus and Lucy” by Vince Guaraldi Trio: Is there a person anywhere of any age that hears this song that doesn't instantly think of Christmas? And the fact that it does so as an instrumental makes it number one on my list.
Local album releases of 2016
It's been a banner year for new releases in the region. In no particular order, here are my favorite albums of 2016.
“2 Years,” Emily Rodgers: Atmospheric, haunting music by one of the area's best songwriters. Rodgers is an indie star waiting to be discovered. emilyrodgers.com
“Troika,” Meeting of Important People: Hands down the best collection of new songs I've heard this year – locally or nationally. Brilliant compositions and musicianship by Josh Verbanets, Adam Bubenheim and Matt Miller. quitmusic.bandcamp.com/
“Sun King Warriors,” Jim Donovan and the Sun King Warriors: Donovan has assembled a superb cast of musicians to play these inspirational songs from the heart. Plus, you can dance to them. sunkingwarriors.com
“American Babylon Live at the Stone Pony,” Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers: Rock ‘n' roll is NOT dead. Grushecky and the Houserockers are still one of the finest rock bands on the planet, as evidenced by this live recording of arguably his best album. grushecky.com.
“Team Doubtful,” The Optimists: Infectious pop/rock by the veteran musicians John Young, Steve Morrison, Dave Klug and Rick Gercak. There's a hook in every song. facebook.com/theoptimistspittsburgh/
“Timeless Things,” Bill Deasy: The most fitting title of the year, as Deasy never seems to age or lose the ability to write memorable songs and melodies. billdeasy.com.
“Arrows” and “Sirens,” The Red Western: These EPs are filled with infectious indie rock with some country overtones. Lead vocalist Lauren DeLorenze is the region's answer to Neko Case. theredwestern.net
“The Loner,” Gene the Werewolf: Carrying on its crusade against pretentious pop, Gene (Jon Belan) and his crew again deliver a collection of songs that pay homage to vintage guitar rock. genethewerewolf.squarespace.com
Shows of note
Randall Baumann's Ramble at the Rex, Dec. 16, Rex Theater, South Side: The WDVE Morning Show host curates some of the best shows in town. This edition of the Ramble features Clinton Clegg, Paul Luc, Chet Vincent, Morgan Erina, Molly Alphabet, Nathan Zoob, Matthew Ryan, Jay Wiley, Addi Twig, Max Somerville and Andre Costello & the Cool Minors. 412-381-6811 or rextheater.com
The Nighthawks, Dec. 16, Moondog's, Blawnox: Since 1972, this Washington, D.C.-based group has been one of the premiere blues bands in the world. Singer and harmonica player Mark Wenner is the lone remaining original member, but the music still cuts and stings like the best blues do. 412-828-2040 or moondogs.us
The Black Lillies, Dec. 18, Pittsburgh Winery, Strip District: The Black Lillies call their sound “Tennessee music” but it's more than just a function of hailing from Knoxville. The group blends traditional country with Appalachian music, with elements of soul, blues and rock also in the mix. 412-566-1000 or pghwinery.com
Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.