Clip: AMP creates a 'focal point' for local music scene (Pittsburgh's, to be precise)
AMP creates a 'focal point' for local music scene
Friday, January 02, 2004
By Ed Masley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Last January, Club Cafe secured the backing of the Sprout Fund, a nonprofit
organization, to program a solid month of local music showcases --100
Bands, 31 Nights, 1 City.
And surprisingly enough, it drew the kind of numbers that could only mean a
Which brings us to the kick-off show tonight at Club Cafe with BEAM, the
New Alcindors and Black Ireland.
This year, the Sprout Fund has expanded both its role and the event itself
-- now titled AMP and featuring a month of music followed by a monthlong
visual arts exhibit at The Andy Warhol Museum in February and a monthlong
performance art series in March at The Brew House.
"The reason why we repeated the project this year," says Cathy Lewis of the
Sprout Fund, "is that it was really exciting and successful, I think, for
the Sprout Fund as well as for the local music community. So the spirit of
the project is very similar, although we didn't do it through the seed
award program. We did it as direct programming of the Sprout Fund."
They had some help, though, in the form of a special committee of people
Lewis feels "have the pulse of the local music scene from a really diverse
perspective" -- Justin Hopper of the City Paper, Kyle Smith of WYEP-FM, Y.
Sean Cho of WRCT, Ashwin Tumne of Element 5, Ben Hartlege of Green
Mannequin Productions, Justin Strong of Shadow Lounge, Ed Bucholtz from the
Warhol and Amy Wellock, Club Cafe's new local music programmer.
"We wanted to showcase up and coming talent," Wellock says, "and that
didn't mean repeating last year's lineup. Or course, we have a few bands
returning but that's because they are strong on the scene. We wanted to
showcase bands that are strong on the scene and also find a way for them to
support bands that are just getting started, that are just getting their
following and their footing. It was so exciting going out and searching for
that. With Justin's help, I found a lot of new faces and a lot of new
sounds that are going to be showcased in January. And when we programmed
each night, it was done very carefully and purposefully, there isn't a
night that has all up-and-comers. There is at least one in every night that
people have heard of and will bring its own crowd and hopefully that crowd
will support the newbies of the night."
Pointing to tonight's bill, Wellock says, "Not many people have heard of
Black Ireland, but they're superb. And the lovers of BEAM will hopefully be
lovers of Black Ireland after seeing them. That's what we're hoping for on
every night. All the new bands are bands that I believe will become part of
the fabric of the music scene in months to come -- and hopefully in years
This final list of bands -- from Boxstep to Black Tie Revue -- was arrived
at after going over each committee member's "wish list" of 100 bands.
As Lewis says, "We did it sort of scientifically, if you will."
And as fairly as possible, given the number of bands competing for
attention on the local music scene.
"It wasn't a single person's perspective," Lewis says. "It wasn't simply
the Sprout Fund's perspective. It's not a battle of the bands or a best-of.
What we want to do is create a monthlong experience that provides a
snapshot into the landscape of the musical community. We may have booked
bands that aren't the biggest draw, but by partnering a less well-known
band with a more well-known band in the same genre, you're widening the
experience for the band members as well as for the audience. So an audience
member might go because they know Boxstep or they know BEAM or whoever but
they may not have heard of one of the lesser known, very emerging bands. So
it's creating a stage for these bands that they otherwise wouldn't have."
Take the Gothees, who made their second appearance ever at last year's100
Bands. They're back on Monday in their 20th appearance ever.
"Last year, I didn't know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised,"
says Waldo P. Emerson Gothee Jones III. "They did a really good job. The
promotion was good."
And people cared about it -- some would say rallied around it.
But why? In a city full of local bands competing for an audience most
nights of the year, why is this event important?
"Well, for a couple of reasons," Justin Hopper says. "First of all, I think
it's important because it gives everything in the local music scene a focal
point. But also, it provides for these bands all the things that they
normally should get but don't, from advertising dollars to a sound check to
a green room with a case of beer. Those kinds of things. A lot of the stuff
that's taken for granted in other cities isn't even dreamed of here. But
last year, when the Johnsons Big Band played, the club gave us a case of
beer, we had a good soundcheck. It was nice."
Of course, it didn't hurt that there were people there to see them play --
in January, even -- after they'd consumed that case of free beer in the
"There are a lot of folks that are very talented in the area," says Kyle
Smith. "I think some of those Flux events have kind of flushed some of that
stuff out, that there are a lot of people who are willing to perform and
put their art work out there. And there isn't always a whole lot going on
tour-wise in this area in January, so I think to be able to spotlight local
talent at a time like this can only be a good thing."
And when January's over?
Wellock hopes to see her club's commitment to the local scene carry over
from AMP to the rest of the year.
"There are so many bands," she says. "I only wish that we could have the
entire three months just to showcase local music, because there's so much
going on. I strongly believe in the local music scene. And we have such a
great room for showcasing bands, I want to use it all year long. January's
just a kickoff."
As to whether the Sprout Fund will be back next year to do it all again,
Lewis says, "I don't know. I don't think that we would re-create the same
thing next year, just as we didn't create the same thing this year as last
year. But if there's sort of a kernel of this that resonates, then we'll
probably try and do something interesting and different next year. Sure.
But first, we'll see if people come out this January."
AMP @ CLUB CAFE
All shows at Club Cafe, doors open 6 p.m., shows 7 p.m., $5
Jan. 2: BEAM, Black Ireland, New Alcindors
Jan. 3: Eric James with band, Dawn Kinnard with band, Gene Stovall
Jan. 5: Zombo, The Gothees, z.o.w.i.e.
Jan. 6: School of Athens, Solara, Life in Bed
Jan. 7: (alt-rock country night): Supercharged Suicide, Midnight Plowboys,
Jan. 8: The Distractions, Omolar, Pleasure Technicians
Jan. 9: Thoth Trio, Capgun Quartet, 3 Apples High
Jan. 10: Waking Matthew, Alexei & the Justins
Jan. 12: Kevin Finn, Weird Paul Petrowski, Joe Prichard, Gary Musisko
Jan. 13: (bluesy jam band night): Borderless Puzzle, Flowdown, Royal Jelly
Jan. 14: Boilermaker Jazz Band, Ernie Hawkins
Jan. 15: 3 Generations Walking, African Drum Ensemble
Jan. 16: Allegheny Rhythm Kings, Boxstep, Daryl Fleming
Jan. 17: Sodajerk, Paul Labrise, Deliberate Strangers
Jan. 19: (MLK tribute night): Barret Black Band, The Rain,
Jan. 20: Jim DiSpirito, Life in Balance, The Secret Agents
Jan. 21: This Side of Eve, Shopping, Local Honey
Jan. 22: (indie rock night): Shade, Wynkataug Monks, Tide, Adam Evil & the
Jan. 23: FYAH WYAH, LaVaska, Taurus
Jan. 24: LoveDrug, Monarch, The You
Jan. 26: (electronic musicians night): Death Pig, SugaPablo, Unindicted
Jan. 27: Ouve, Creta Bourzia, Chai Baba
Jan. 28: Chalk Outline Party, Curses
Jan. 29: Black Tie Review, The Electric
Jan. 30: The Breakup Society, Like Summer, New Invisible Joy
Jan. 31: Salena Catelina Send-off Party, Jenn Wertz, Mofones, Marsha Mellow
"One Last Drag"
AMP @ THE WARHOL
Call for artists; submissions accepted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 31 and
Feb. 1 at The Andy Warhol Museum. Details on eligibility and exhibit at
AMP @ THE BREW HOUSE
Performance art series weekends in March
Call for artists; proposals due by 5 p.m. Jan. 16. Send to Sprout Fund,
4920 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224; e-mail: amp.performance@
sproutfund.org; fax 412-325-0647 or visit www.amp2004.sproutfund.org.