Deutschtown Music Festival brings more than 300 bands to 30 venues on North Side |
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Patrick Varine

It might seem that, after six years of organizing the Deutschtown Music Festival, the logistics would get easier.

But when more than 300 bands and 30-some venues are involved, it’s always a challenge, according to organizer Ben Soltesz.

“It keeps getting bigger,” said Soltesz, 46, of Pittsburgh’s Spring Hill neighborhood. “I always think we’re going to pare it down, but it gets larger each year. We’re pushing close to 400 bands, which I never expected.”

The seventh annual Deutschtown Music Festival, which is free to attend, will take place July 12 and 13 at venues all over the North Side’s Deutschtown neighborhood.

This year’s festival also includes a Sunday gospel brunch on July 14, in addition to more than 25 food trucks, an art market and family-friendly activities.

“It started as ‘Let’s do something positive on the North Side,’ bringing people to the East Ohio Street business district,” Soltesz said. “And even as the work has grown, it’s still fun.”

In organizing the first Deutschtown festival, Soltesz started calling members of his favorite local bands, “and everyone started saying yes,” he said. “This year we had online submissions from between 500 and 600 bands.”

Paring that list down to about 350 bands falls to Hugh Twyman, an art teacher at the Student Achievement Center in Pittsburgh and a music blogger who runs the HughShows website.

“The single biggest challenge is bands sharing members with other bands,” Twyman said. “That’s my first priority: what band members play in other bands, and then I sort of move outward from there.”

One local musician, Twyman said, will perform with three different bands on the same night of the festival.

The good news for Twyman is that once the music begins, his job is basically done, and he can shift into music-blogger mode.

“Once it gets going, there’s not much I can do,” he said. “I’m slowing down right now and doing little things like adjusting the schedule.”

Once the festival kicks off, Twyman can usually be found jumping from one venue to the next, his camera swinging around his neck. Soltesz and fellow organizers Cody Walters and Jesse Descutner aren’t as lucky.

“It’s usually 10 p.m. on Friday night before I can even think about sitting down and maybe having a beer or listening to a band,” Soltesz said. “But when you show up, see all the people and the camaraderie between the bands and everyone having a good time, that’s worth it to me.”

Twyman agreed.

“I’m a huge music fan, and I’m just in awe of what they put together,” he said.

Details: DeutschtownMusic

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