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  • Carl Z.
    Pittsburgh Calling: The Working Poor Thursday, October 12, 2006 By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette A
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 12, 2006

      Pittsburgh Calling: The Working Poor

      Thursday, October 12, 2006
      By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

      A capsule look at Pittsburgh bands making news.

      The Working Poor

      Band: Alan Lewandowski (guitar, vocals); Lee Smookler (vocals); Brian
      Dean Richmond (bass); Greg Pierce (guitar); Thad Kellstadt (drums).

      Past resume: Tiny Little Help (flagship of the Rickety scene), The
      Feral Family, The Lesser Apes, The Cuff, Johnsons Big Band, Anita Fix,
      many more.

      Sound: Oldtime country-folk with dual vocals and a hint of sour
      indie-rock turbulence. Think Hank Williams meets "Hallowed Ground"-era
      Violent Femmes.

      New record: "Come Down for Your Silver" is the band's fourth release,
      following a live album in 1997, a 4-song EP in 2002 and the 7-song CD
      "New Wealth" in 2004.

      Early influences: Lewandowski, who grew up in Fayette County, says
      "Country is what I grew up with," "The first music I grew up with was
      Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. My dad was a fanatic, just religious
      about country music. That's what my dad liked and I liked it and I
      didn't feel any need to rebel -- at least until I went to college."

      Border music: During Lewandowski's stint in Albuquerque with his
      former band, Tiny Little Help, the singer-songwriter was intrigued by
      Mexican norteno music, sung in Spanish with a dry acoustic guitar.
      "That had a huge effect on me -- the simple sincere sound really lends
      itself to vocals."

      Making "Silver": "We had an offer to come up to a studio in Erie to
      record and we knew we had one weekend to work with," says Lewandowski.
      "We picked out a batch of songs and wanted to record them just as we
      had as we had been playing them -- just wanted to get it close to
      industry standards, at least."

      Mr. Cohen's stamp: Lewandowski, who writes the songs, with Smookler as
      his "filter," says he'd been listening a lot to "Recent Songs" by
      Leonard Cohen. "That stamped the lyrics on this album pretty clearly
      -- his way of making nature and the lover and his own twisted theology
      part of one subject to sing to."

      Reaction to the Poor: On the band's unique sound, Lewandowski says
      that, from Louisville to New York City, "usually people are pretty
      surprised to hear what we're doing."

      Release show: Saturday at 10 p.m. the Brillobox, Bloomfield, with Hem
      + Haw and My Niece Denise.
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