8th Annual Allegheny County Music Festival, featuring Rusted Root with special guests, The Velcro Shoes, The Buckledowns, and Andre Costello and the Cool Minors
Hartwood Acres, Hampton PA, USA September 3, 2017
Review by Lisa Sikon
Labor Day typically marks the end of the summer for most people and also the end of the summer concert series at Allegheny County Parks. There was a lot of great music this summer in the parks and it ended with a great show. This charity event benefits the children of Allegheny County and is just a fun event to attend. I have attended the past 3 years and have been impressed with the quality of music played at this festival. There are food trucks and Hop Farm Brewing on site, but many people bring large spreads to enjoy the show.
I can’t say enough good things about warm up bands, I always seem to find a band that surprises me with their talent. Tonight was no exception. The Velcro Shoes are a local indie rock Pittsburgh band that had a great sound with influences from the 90’s and more. They are definitely a band with a strong rock and some punk influence that makes you want to get out and dance. Lead vocalist and bass player, Eric Emerson, puts on a great performance and plays the bass with a unique style, more like a guitar than a bass. Rounding out the rest of the band are Bill Krowinski, on guitar, Mike Slobidan on guitar and keys and keeping the beat is Garrett Bogden. They released their second album this year, ‘All That You Are’, on August 12th. The vinyl is a translucent cobalt blue with some fantastic tracks on it. My favorites are ‘Better Before It Gets Worse’, ‘Backyard’, which they performed at the show, and the title song ‘All That You Are’. I would recommend picking up a copy and give it a spin. This is a band with a familiar yet unique sound that I am going to look for in the Pittsburgh area. I highly recommend taking in a show and picking up the vinyl.
Next up were The Buckledowns, I caught them earlier in the year at the WYEP summer music festival. This is a high energy funk, soul, and rock band led by the powerhouse vocals of Kiki Brown. Ernie Francestine and Jon Henderson are on guitar, Jonathan Guldon plays the drums, Damien De Troia is on bass and Dave Filonuk round out the band on the keys. One of my favorite songs is ‘Soldier’, I loved the way Kiki performs this song, so much emotion in her singing and performance. They also released their first album earlier in the summer, ‘Hard Truths’. You can purchase it on their website, or better yet, catch them on a live performance. This is definitely a band you want to see live, the energy of this group is amazing.
Andre Costello and the Cool Minors were next in the lineup. This is one of my favorite local bands and I love their sound. Andre Costello is the lead vocalist and has a unique sound with a lot of emotion in his singing, Matthew Fiorillo is on bass, Nick Chartiers on drums and rounding out the band is James Hart on the keyboards. During their live shows, this band always puts out a great show, adding a lot of musical extras to the music. They did play my favorite song, ‘She Took My Hand’, and ended with another one of my favorites- “NSA”, which usually has the audience singing along with the callback lyrics.
Rusted Root has been a Pittsburgh favorite since the band formed here in 1990. They have been playing the Allegheny County Music Festival for 10 years now, and they sure bring out the crowd both die-hard and new fans. They have seven albums, the most recent being Movement. The music is a mix of rock with heavy influences of African, Native American and Latin American music. The band consists of three of the original members, Michael Glabicki on lead vocals and guitar, Liz Berlin on percussion and backing vocals, Patrick Norman on bass and backing vocals, and some new members, Cory Caruso on percussion and Dirk Miller on guitar and vocals. Their bestselling album, ‘When I Woke’, has a lot of my favorites on it but I enjoy all of their music. They definitely did their usual performance last night, which is always phenomenal.
Bill Deasy of the Gathering Field is responsible for choosing the bands for the Music Festival as well as the Summer Concert series. The lineup this year was diverse as well as entertaining. This is definitely a great thing for Allegheny County and all shows are free to the public. This year had a mix of jazz, Indie Rock, Funk, Southern Rock, and Rockabilly/Blues, along with the Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Ballet and the Pittsburgh Symphony. There is definitely something for everyone and each show seems to bring out a crowd. There is so much free music in Pittsburgh and something for everyone. Just to name a few that I have attended this year: The Millvalle Music Festival, The Pittsburgh Arts Festival, Deutchtown Music festival, R.A.N.T, The Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, Pittsburgh Jazz Festival,and AbbeyFest. Support local music, for the small price of admission, you get great music and a great night (or day) out! Support local artists, they are the backbone of the music industry and some of the most hardworking and passionate people I have ever met