Blog (2019 to present)
February 22, 2023. We spent the lunch hour with patients and staff at UPMC McKeesport, an acute care community hospital. Our concert was part of Music Smiles, a program of the Sunny Pugar Memorial Inc. that underwrites live performances by local musicians in Pittsburgh-area health facilities. Annie Pugar started the nonprofit in 2006, in memory of her husband, a professional drummer.
February 6, 2023. The Pittsburgh International Airport Arts Performance Program has added a second afternoon of live music each week, and we were the first band to fill the new slot today. We’ve been musical ambassadors there before and get a kick out of the whole experience: VIP parking, security passes, special transport for our instruments and gear, the stage at the top of the escalators in the center of the airside terminal, arriving and departing passengers stopping to listen for a few minutes or waving or smiling as they pass by, bags in tow. We included songs with references to Pittsburgh landmarks, and one traveler took a selfie in front of the sign with our band’s name.
January 28, 2023. We did another live interview on the Saturday Light Brigade radio program this morning, with host Larry Berger. We appreciated the opportunity to promote our new CD as well as a concert tonight at SongSpace at First Unitarian. Openers Louie Castle and Madeline and Friends (band mates, Liv and Nolan) joined us in the studio, along with SongSpace Director Brian Junker. It was cozy in there! By the end of the hour, we emerged with even more admiration for the other artists (interview archived here). The audience for the SongSpace show was notably intergenerational, thanks to many young people who came out to support Louie, Madeline, Liv and Nolan. A highlight for us was when these four talented musicians returned to the stage to join us for the closing song.
October 22-23, 2002. We were back on the road this weekend, after a long hiatus, for a mini-tour in Michigan. Interestingly, in addition to friendly humans, the audiences at both of our shows included very special dogs. At the Flint Folk Music Society, a women was accompanied by her guide dog who, we learned, had been trained by inmates through a program operating in several states. And at the East Lansing Public Library, a man and his dog attended our concert before heading over to the children's section to give youngsters a chance to practice reading in front of friendly canines.
August 27, 2022. Lots of folks came out for the Squirrel Hill Night Market this evening, presented by Uncover Squirrel Hill, I Made It! Market, and the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition. We got there early to listen to musicians ahead of us in the lineup, including a talented young singer-songwriter and a high-energy band made up of students and staff from nearby Sunburst School of Music.
August 6, 2022. The Backyard, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's new performance space in the middle of downtown, is fabulous! We got very lucky with the weather tonight and we had a great crowd. Check it out if you're in the area! There's outdoor patio furniture, new landscaping featuring EcoGrass, lawn games, public art, food trucks, and a great lineup of performers, all free, throughout the summer.
August 5, 2022. We spent another evening at the Cranberry Township Farmers Market and managed to get through half of our set list before lightening forced the market to close early. Thanks to a very strategic parking decision (of questionable legality), we were able to get all of our instruments and sound equipment back into the car before the downpour began. It was a close call! Thanks to the market staff for making a very timely call.
June 11, 2022. We played at a Bat Mitzvah reception today, a first for us. The event took place outdoors in a beautiful garden adjacent to a gorgeous synagogue in Squirrel Hill, under blue skies. Guests made us feel very welcome, including a middle schooler who gave us a shout out on Instagram.
June 5, 2022. This photo is legit, friends. We did an hour-long set on the main stage at the Three Rivers Arts Festival today. No squatting or disguises. And no rain! A few hours later, Sierra Hull stood in the same spot, captivating the crowd with her mando prowess and charm. We'll be processing all of it for a while. Thank you, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, for giving us such a big break, and Hollowood Sound and Fly Space Productions for making sure it all ran smoothly!
May 18, 2022. We provided entertainment before and after a dinner hosted by the PA Environmental Council tonight. In between, we got to know several friendly rock climbers seated at our table. We'd never met any of them before but discovered we know some of the same folks. That's a Pittsburgh thing. Often no more than two degrees of separation.
March 15, 2022. Our entry for this year's NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest is up! We found a sunny spot, took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and recorded "Dharma Jane," our original song with an embedded Buddhist chant. Om mani padme hum.
March 9, 2022. We enjoyed another evening with members of the Music Committee and about 100 other residents at Longwood at Oakmont, a retirement community near Pittsburgh. These folks always treat us well. More than a dozen listeners hung around to chat after the show, and Charlie, a retired pediatrician in his 80s, volunteered to be our roadie, helping us carry instruments and equipment back to the car.
February 8, 2022. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust knows how to put on a show. From the publicity to the health and safety measures to the professional light and sound and load in/our assistance, they had everything covered for our gig at the Greer Cabaret Theater downtown. There was even a shower in the dressing room! As locals, we didn't need that but we appreciated the thought given to artists' comfort, including those traveling long distances to perform here.
December 22, 2021. Here is the second installment of "Two Squirrels and a Song," our occasional video series. This one features our cover of John Gorka's "Love is our cross to bear," a song that drew us on the first listen, with its evocative lyrics (e.g., "love will pull you out of yesterday") and sweet recurring guitar lick.
October 20, 2021. Two years ago, almost to the day, we packed up our gear and drove two hours to perform at a restaurant full of people. Since then, what gigging we’ve done has been online. Until tonight. At dusk, we carried a new mini PA and foldable mic stand a few blocks to a little alcove outside our local library. And we played. People smiled from their cars. A worker from a local restaurant stopped by during his break. A woman sat down on the sidewalk a few feet away. A friend stood nearby, for support. It was a “soft” re-entry for us. And it felt nice to be back.
October 9, 2021. Back in the day, we used to set up our sound system and play music for people who sat close enough to make eye contact. It was a thrill. We hope we get the chance to do that again. In the meantime, we are making videos. Here’s a cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You." We’re calling the series "Two Squirrels and a Song."
July 13, 2021. It was a thrill to be part of the lineup of John Platt's On Your Radar, along with UK-based John Smith and Philadelphia-based Lisa Jeanette. We chatted with the host, a well-regarded folk DJ in NYC, and did a 30-minute music set. The show is archived on YouTube.
June 7, 2021. After more than a year of being cooped up, we figured "On the loose" (the title track from our most recent CD) was an appropriate song to submit to the 2021 NPR Tiny Desk Contest. We had a lot of fun filming the video, which included some choreography (sort of).
October 26, 2019. Our gig at Gateway Lodge tonight was a musical marathon, spanning two separate seatings of a five-course wine-paired dinner. We served up all the tasty songs we could think of, along with some others, for garnish. While the menu was gourmet, the atmosphere in the dining room was relaxed, and we enjoyed interacting with guests at nearby tables.
October 24, 2019. Our concert at the Western PA School for Blind Children this afternoon was a joy, with some students sitting on floor mats in the front and the rest in chairs or wheelchairs behind. When one child got agitated, his attentive caregiver took him to the back of the room where he was able to settle himself while still being included. At the end of our set, a few kids tried our instruments, waiting patiently for their turn. One young girl played the portable snare with excellent rhythm, coordination and confidence.
October 19, 2019. Rupert Wates is an extraordinary guitarist who plays with great precision even when his fingers are flying across the strings. He’s also a fantastic whistler. We got a great clip of him whistling at Trinity House Theatre where we shared the stage with him tonight. For his fingerstyle prowess, check out the videos on his website: https://rupertwatesmusic.com/video.
October 19, 2019. One of our first tours as a duo was our "NY Roots Tour" back in 2013, which included stops in Rome and NYC, our respective hometowns. This weekend, we are in MI where a longtime friend of ours was born and raised. Always an avid reader, she spent many hours at the Troy Public Library, and we thought of her as a little girl while we performed there this afternoon, and the many articles and books she has gone on to write, as an author and journalist.
October 5, 2019. For almost 100 years, Koehler Brewery was a fixture in Erie, PA before closing its doors in 1978. Now Koehler beer is being brewed again. Bruce Koehler, who is unrelated to the original owner, was able to register the logo because the trademark had expired, and he and his wife, Mia, decorated their new brew pub in Ellwood City with vintage signs and other memorabilia. The place looks great!
August 7, 2019. Our buddy, Richard Gordon (aka Mando Richard), invited us into the WRCT 88.3 FM studio in Pittsburgh today for a live spot on his weekly folk radio program, Whiskey Before Breakfast. While we tuned up, he played a recording by Joe Crookston, a brilliant singer-songwriter who has been a musical inspiration to us. He chose this artist because we had turned him onto him a few years ago but what he didn’t know was that the song he selected — “Good Luck John” — is one we happen to cover and are currently recording for a new album we are working on. #synchronicity
August 4, 2019. We were back at the Squirrel Hill Farmers Market today, this time to kick off National Farmers Market Week with support from the City of Pittsburgh. They put us and our solar-charged sound system under a tent which provided a bit of shade for our listeners, including a mom, her toddler and their dog who hung out for a while. It was fun to play for them, hundreds of passersby, and the vendors. Special shout out to Dillner Family Farms which was in the stall next to ours.
June 12, 2019. The folks at Longwood at Oakmont, a retirement community near Pittsburgh, spoiled us again tonight. In addition to laughing during our funny songs and tearing up during the sad ones, residents treated us to dinner before the show, hung around afterwards to chat, and helped us haul equipment to and from the car. We left feeling refreshed rather than worn out. Special thanks to Jane and the rest of the Music Committee.
June 1, 2019. We debuted a brand new song called Bury Me Green at Penn Forest Natural Burial Park’s 9th annual picnic today. In addition to music, the event included guided tours, a labyrinth, and a rotary “wind phone” for communicating with friends and family who have died.
May 17, 2019. Rain prevented us from performing in the lovely Welcome Garden at the Cooper-Siegel Community Library near Pittsburgh tonight, but Kelley, head of adult services, created a very comfortable and inviting space indoors. Towards the end of our hour-long set, the rain let up so we unplugged and did the closing song outside. It was too early in the year for fireflies to make an appearance but we imagined them flashing on cue during the instrumental.
May 12, 2019. Sunny skies would have been nice for today's opening of the Squirrel Hill Farmers Market, but the steady drizzle wasn't a problem for the plants in the uncovered stall next to where we were performing or the folks selling hot coffee under a tent across the way.
April 14, 2019. We just submitted our entry for the 2019 NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest!
April 1, 2019. We are back from our FL tour, with warm fuzzy feelings about the folks we met and the experiences we had, on and off stage. Special shoutout to our roadie Diana, Jenny’s soul sister since preschool, who flew out from LA to be part of the fun.
March 31, 2019. Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen get four thumbs up! Great groove, super friendly. Total pleasure opening for them at the Central Florida Folk concert yesterday. They are based in California but tour extensively. Go see them and tell them the Pittsburgh duo with the left-handed squirrel sent you.
March 30, 2019. We made several new friends at our Orlando Public Library gig on Saturday, including Venice. She sat in the front row and responded to every song with enthusiasm. Her “yeehaws” during Cowboy Song and “meows” during “Fat Cat Skinny Cat” were so well timed other audience members asked if we had rehearsed together. Thanks for your clever contributions, Venice!
March 28, 2019. We found an old magazine rack in a storage room at the Port Orange Regional Library near Daytona, and converted it into a multi instrument stand for our Thursday afternoon concert. There were a couple mishaps but nothing broke. And it was a great visual! We’re looking into trademarking the design, since CD sales are slowing down. #entrepreSquirrels
March 23, 2019. We had even more fun with the Americana Community Music Association (ACMA) in Fort Myers last night than we did the first time we performed there two years ago. Lots of folks came out to support us and ACMA member Ralph Leesburg who did a great opening set. We especially enjoyed his clever original song, “Last piece of pie.”
March 22, 2019. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions for the start of our 10-day Singing Snowbirds FL tour yesterday. Skies were bright blue, it was around 70 degrees, and there was a gentle breeze in the Key West Library’s verdant Palm Garden. The friendly audience included permanent residents, seasonal residents and visitors, many of whom we had a chance to meet. One man offered us a vintage red frisbee as a token of his appreciation for our performance, which was free and open to the public, thanks to the Friends of the Library. He told us he’d grown up in Pittsburgh and since moving to Key West, in the early 70s, had made a name for himself on the beach, as the FrisbeeKing. He spoke openly about the rewards and challenges of his regimen and how he’d ended up homeless. Later, we googled him and found a television interview, new stories, and videos.
January 12, 2019. Our friend and fellow Pittsburgh musician, Christopher Mark Jones, shot a video for us at his Studio 256 last week. He set up two cameras on tripods and held a third, using a cool device with a built in stabilizer. Three mics, meanwhile, captured the audio. Very efficient process. And fun!