The HughShows Live @ Eide’s finale is upon us, and the man himself is the featured face. This month’s free concert will feature rare stripped down solo, duo and some trio acoustic sets and run from 12-6. If there was ever a HughShows not to miss, this is it, well, because its the last one! Check out our interview with Hugh about his past, present and future on the Pittsburgh music scene.
Sound Scene Express: How did you get your start on the Pittsburgh music scene?
Hugh Twyman: I have been a fan of music since I was a little kid. My dad took me to my first concerts in the late seventies; Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Bob Seger. I just loved the live setting.
After a while I started taking a camera into shows to document what was going on. Actually, I vividly remember never seeing a picture of Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia) actually playing live and wanted to be the person to change that. Weird I know but that is how the photography aspect started. It just bloomed from that. I treated it as a hobby at first but as I got more prolific and started to focus on local music, it definitely turned into something more serious than just some casual thing.
SSE: What has kept you blogging for 10 years?
HT: The pure fun of it. I love every part of HughShows. Going to shows, taking photos, incorporating art, snagging setlists, meeting new people, giving bands another outlet to share their music. I have seen several Pittsburgh music bloggers come and go, but I am still having a blast doing it so why would I stop?
SSE: How has the local scene evolved since you started covering it?
HT: I think the most important and exciting thing is the DIY aspect of the music community. Whether it’s shows going on in basements, or even crude home recordings. People are just doing it without anyone’s ‘permission’ and without any ‘rules’. Plus there are many more younger people moving and staying in Pittsburgh. More young people mean more musicians and more audience members for them to play to.
SSE: What band(s) over 10 years do feel had the most potential to go mainstream?
HT: I am the worst judge on what will be ‘mainstream’. My favorite bands are all the ones who eventually broke up! The Mendoza Line, Norfolk & Western, One Star Hotel and Centro-Matic were all GREAT bands who are no longer together. Even Pittsburgh had bands like Big Hurry, New Shouts and Local Honey who I LOVED that aren’t around anymore. Mainstream doesn’t matter to me. I’d rather see my favorite band in a club anyway than in a crowd at an amphitheater. Not to say I wouldn’t want these bands to get successful. I would be the first wish them that.
SSE: What are some of your most favorite or coolest experiences over 10 years?
HT: Definitely every single moment of the Eide’s shows so far. Having a ‘Hugh Twyman Day’ in Pittsburgh was and still is unbelievable to me. The Elephant Six Holiday Surprise show in 2008 was magical. Karl Wallinger of World Party doing his soundcheck at WYEP with only me in the room in 2012 was something I never dreamt could happen. Shooting ‘Roger Waters The Wall’ also in 2012 brought out the 14 year old kid in me. Sneaking my camera into Ryan Adams and then meeting him afterwards in 2007 was fun because he was really nice and not a grumpy jerk as I have heard. Grandaddy at Club Laga in 2004 was incredible, as was Cat Power at Hartwood in 2006. There are just way too many to keep listing.
SSE: What are some of your favorite venues to shoot at?
HT: I love The Rex because of the lighting system they put in around 2011. If they added a barrier between the stage and audience for photographers, I would live down at that place!
I am going to miss the same cobweb in the upper corner behind the stage at Garfield Artworks when it closes. It literally hasn’t changed in the last ten years, I have photographic proof.
I love to shoot at Howler’s.
My favorite places to shoot over the last ten years have been basements or studios while band’s are rehearsing or recording. I like going out to The Wilderness Recording Studio not just because Jay Vega who runs it is my sound man at the Eide’s shows but it truly is a unique environment to record. Every musician in the city should check it out.
SSE: How did HughShows Live @ Eide’s get its start?
HT: When I thought of this, it was much different than what it turned out to be. I approached a few of the West End businesses about getting together and having a festival down there but I just couldn’t do it alone. There were way too many things to consider when doing something like that. I had other ideas like putting on shows in unique places. How cool would it be to put on a show on the roof of the Steel Tower? It was going to be a series of ‘pop-up’ shows like that. One of them would have been in a record store and I did reach out to many of the independent stores in town and Eide’s was way into the idea since they recently built the 3rd Floor Stage so we had them all there. I must state how cooperative they have been. If it wasn’t for Greg, Jim, Ken, Scott and Carlos at Eide’s, these shows wouldn’t have been what they are. They have been beyond cool. The second thing I had to do was reach out to a sound man to help me cause I know zilch about the tech stuff. Jay was first on my list and I am thrilled he said yes. This whole thing would not have happened without him. We should really call it JayShows Live @ Eide’s. He’s the absolute greatest!
SSE: What is your favorite HughShows Live @ Eide’s to date?
HT: Like picking children, man. Seriously, if I at all tried to rank any of the shows, it would be disrespectful to the other bands. They all willingly and enthusiastically took the time to perform and it means so much to me that they did. It probably sounds cliché but each one of these shows has been the best!
SSE: It has been a whirlwind year for you. How do you think it went?
HT: It really couldn’t have gone any better. I approached it positively and I believe that reflected in the way everything went this year. The first band to play in January was going to be Satin Gum. I got an email from Brian a few weeks before we started (on Christmas, no less) saying he broke his finger. My first split-second reaction was to freak out. Instead, I took a minute and then figured out how to deal with it. The band’s guitarist Jonathan Gunnell is in The Red Western and they totally stepped up and played the gig. Things like that popped up throughout the year and I just rolled with it and it all worked out. It is nice to know that Satin Gum will be opening up the last show as it all comes full circle for me.
SSE: How/why did you choose the Homeless Children’s Fund to be HughShows Live @
HT: I am a teacher myself so when I wanted a charitable aspect to the series, I simply Googled “Pittsburgh + education + charity” and they came up. I never heard of them prior, as many people who attend have told me but hopefully through what we did this year, more people discover what an incredible thing they do. I am truly proud to be associated with them in any way.
SSE: What should we expect from the final HughShows Live @ Eide’s, 10.12?
HT: This is going to be six hours of insanity. I wanted every month to have a diverse line-up where bands who never shared a stage together were playing with each other. I think we achieved that and the last one is no exception.
I was going to have a normal four band line-up play 45 minute sets but there were so many bands I wanted to include that I decided to invite bands to play in an ‘open mic’ style format. Each band will play three songs with a time limit of no longer than 15 minutes. The bands that are playing are mainly the songwriters playing solo acoustic. About half the line-up is duo like Satin Gum, Misaligned Mind, Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, Boca Chica, Dumplings, Butterbirds, Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Delicious Pastries and The Wreckids. Summer-Winter will be a three piece at Terry’s request. I am thrilled they are even playing. It seems they never play out live much and I would have had an orchestra if he wanted. Also, Donora is playing a little longer than fifteen minutes as a full trio because I have been begging those guys all year to play and I love that they are going to end the series. There are a handful bands in town that I have a special history with and Donora certainly is one of them.
The entire day is going to be tight time-wise and hopefully each band realizes that to keep the schedule, we must adhere to that. I might wear a shirt that says, “We have time for one more?” with a big red circle and line going through it. I am definitely going to be stressing but it will work out. Maybe I’ll ask Jeff Betten from Wild Kindness Records to be the bad cop and monitor set times. He’s a bulldog when it comes to that stuff! I want to hang and have fun. We’ll see.
SSE: What is next for you in 2015 and beyond?
HT: The week after the Eide’s Finale we are having a holiday party at the Kollar Club on the Southside dubbed ‘HughShows Secret Santapalooza’. I call it a party and not a show because that’s what I wanted it to be. Something very special with many of my friends in the room. The guys from The Deutschtown Music Festival and Wild Kindness Records are helping me throw it. My friends happen to be in some of my favorite local bands and they are playing unique sets covering songs related to Pittsburgh in some way and playing guests spots with each other. We are raising money for Karl Hendricks during the night and there are a very limited amount of tickets available for the public as the place is rather small but I think that will add to the festivities. It’s going to be so fun. I cannot wait.
Then on January 17, I am presenting one final show (HughShows Coda) at The Thunderbird Café with Meeting of Important People and a reunion of Lohio! Ever since Lohio reunited to play Mayor Peduto’s Inauguration last January, I have been pleading with Greg Dutton to get the band back together for an Eide’s spot and it just never worked out. I think he wanted to do a full band Lohio show as well and I was beyond thrilled when he brought this up. I have waited four long years for another Lohio show and this will be a very special night for everyone. It is actually happening during the just announced Strip District Music Festival but our show will be later than most of that so you really want to be at the Thunderbird that night!
I might be involved in the R.A.N.T. and Deutschtown Fests this year if they’ll have me.
Other than that I am probably going to slow down on actually going out to shoot shows and concentrate on the blog. I am kicking around other ideas such as maybe a podcast of some sort or even a HughShowsTV show on public access. I think that would be incredibly exciting to do.
Finally, we also have all the Eide’s sets recorded and Jay and I are going to decide, with all the band’s permission, to see if we can release some of this incredible music. I don’t know, we’ll see. Whatever I do, I want to continue to just have fun.
SSE: Is there anything else you would like to add?
HT: I just want to humbly and sincerely say thanks. There are way too many people to mention that have been so cool with me over the last ten years and particularly the last twelve months. For everyone who simply said “Yes” to me, thank you for making my dream come true. It really did mean the world to me.
* – All times listed are approximate.
11:45: Brian Spekis & Jonathan Gunnell (Satin Gum)
12:00: Clinton Clegg (The Commonheart)
12:15: Jarrod W. Tracey & Zack Wiesinger (Misaligned Mind)
12:30: Alexander Stanton (townsppl)
12:45: ‘Weird Paul’ Petrosky
1:00: Abby Krizner & Jason Sichi (Fist Fight in the Parking Lot)
1:15: Nicholas Hohman (Brewer’s Row)
1:30: Slim Forsythe
1:45: Jonathan Dowling & Pam Hanlin (Dumplings)
2:00: Hallie Pritts & Susanna Meyer (Boca Chica)
2:15: John Kraemer & Ashlee Green (Butterbirds)
2:30: Jim Smerecky & Danny Rectenwald (Bastard Bearded Irishmen)
2:45: Guy Russo
3:00: Michael McCormick (City Dwelling Nature Seekers)
3:15: Jonathan Chamberlain & Jesse Ley (Delicious Pastries)
3:30: Aaron Shafer (Round Black Ghosts)
3:45: Derek White
4:00: Morgan Erina
4:15: Scott Peterson & Sarah Siplak (The Wreckids)
4:30: BAND SETUP
4:45: Becky Corrigan
5:00: Terry O’Hara (Summer-Winter)
5:15 Greg Dutton (Lohio)
5:30 Donora Full Band Acoustic Set
presented by The Wilderness Recording Studio
If you are attending, please consider bringing a new school supply item (listed below) for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund’s GEAR FOR GRADES BACKPACK DRIVE.
-Small Boxes Crayons
-Small Tissue Packs