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Patti Spadaro keeps it honest, strong while singing the blues

| Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010

The first line on Patti Spadaro's bio states that she plays "bluesy, jammy rock with wailing female guitar."

That's not unusual, save the gender. While there are many fine female musicians in the region, only a few bands feature women as lead guitarists. Even then, people aren't sure if the guitarist is legit.

"I think sometimes people discriminate a little bit because it's something they don't see," says Spadaro, who will release her new album, "Bringing Me Back," Saturday at P.D.'s Pub in Squirrel Hill. "They think, 'Girl with a guitar, folkie strumming along.' Which is fine, but that's not particularly me. I guess people don't think you have the ability if you're a woman. It's sad that some people still think that way."

Spadaro came to Western Pennsylvania nine years ago after a decade in Los Angeles where she played guitar in a number of indie rock bands. The Philadelphia native knew no one in the area (she moved here because her husband, John, found work in Washington County, where the family now lives) but she knew what she liked musically. She reached out to Jim Donovan, the ex-Rusted Root drummer and a noted percussionist, who encouraged her to pursue music.

But first came the birth of two girls, Alison, now 9, and Kaylee, 7. Only when they came of school age could Spadaro truly return to music. Donovan helped her connect to producer Sean McDonald of Sofa King Music Services in Swissvale, who introduced her to keyboard player Skip Sanders. Spadaro also recruited drummer Eric Kurtzrock, who has performed with David Byrne, Barry Finnerty and Chipito Ayeres, and bassist Scooter Tamulinas, who performs with Bill Toms and Bill Deasy.

Donovan also agreed to play on a few tracks on the new record.

"The thing I love about Patti's songs is that she is completely real in them," Donovan says. "This authenticity and transparency made it easy for me to be a part of her recording. In addition to an honest and strong voice, her lead guitar playing is nothing short of remarkable."

Spadaro plays clean, lyrical leads on guitar that are reminiscent of the style of the late Jerry Garcia in their economy and fluidity.

She admits Garcia is an influence, but the positive vibe that comes from the music reflects her own beliefs about her craft.

"One of the things I love about music is it gets me centered," Spadaro says. "You hear athletes talking about being in the zone, being in the present moment, and I get that out of music. What's really cool is having a band where everybody is in the same place and the energy is flowing, everybody is synchronized with each other and creating in the moment."

Additional Information:

Patti Spadaro Band CD release party

With: Bill Toms and Friends

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Admission: $7

Where: Frankie's & Georgie's (formerly PD's Pub, Squirrel Hill)

Details: 412-422-5027

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