The prolific Weird Paul Petroskey is still going strong with his 28th release.
By Scott Mervis Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Weird Paul: All smiles and heartbreak
• In terms of sheer output, Weird Paul is somewhere between the Rolling Stones (at 24 records) and Bob Dylan (at 35).
Granted, many of Weird Paul's records are just cassette releases recorded in his bedroom, and some of the songs clock in at a mere 40 seconds, but his latest project, "Still Going Strong," is his impressive 28th release.
"Counting all the songs on all the albums it's over 600," he says. "Add in the many unreleased songs and songs on comps, and I've written or co-written over 700."
The wonder of Weird Paul Petroskey's offbeat lo-fi rock aesthetic is his willingness to write about things that wouldn't seem to warrant a song: From the new album, "Peanut Butter Recall" documents the various brands he has tried; "Beach Ball" is about beach balls coming in one-packs; and "The Sink Stinks" pretty much speaks for itself.
Just when you think it's all smiles, Weird Paul hits you with a heartbreaker like "I've Filled up Many Tissues With My Tears."
"I battled depression for many years," he says. "Some of my early albums have many songs about it. I have learned to deal with it, but occasionally it rears its ugly head and then I'll write about it again. Even when I write a totally serious song, I try to make it unique."
There's pathos as well in the Ramones-style opening track, "Delusions of Grandeur," in which he admits to exaggerating that a viral YouTube video of him as an adorable 14-year-old amounted to having his own TV show.
"I actually did tell people that I was going to have my own TV show someday," he says. "This was after my 1984 McDonald's Breakfast Review went viral last year on YouTube. After a while I realized how crazy it was for me to say that, then I wrote the song. It really brings you back down to Earth when Wikipedia nearly deletes your article for 'not being notable enough'! That almost happened last week. Fortunately, the administrators decided that I was notable."
"Driving a Thing," which manages to go from pop-punk to ska-punk to glam, is an example of a song driven by his subconscious.
"It's about this horrible recurring nightmare that I've had for years. I'm driving my car down some twisty Pittsburgh road, and suddenly -- even though I'm still driving it -- it starts getting further and further in front of me until I can't even see it. I'm not even in it anymore, so of course it ultimately crashes into something, or another car!"
Whether it's the Led Zep twist "Misty Morning Hop" or "This Guy's Got a Bone Disease," he says, "I can pretty much take any title and find the idea for the song somewhere inside of me."
In the '90s, the Brookline-based Weird Paul was briefly signed to the New York indie Homestead Records, and he got international recognition in 2006 when "Weird Paul: A Lo Fidelity Documentary" was screened at the Chicago Underground Film Festival and Leeds International Film Festival. "Still Going Strong" is his second album for the Little Rock, Ark.-based Thick Syrup Records, home to Jad Fair and Penn Gillette.
"Being on Thick Syrup has done a lot for me," he says. "They got me involved with Jad & David Fair, who put me on their Shakemore Festival two months ago. That also exposed me to a new audience -- the right audience for what I do. And knowing that Thurston Moore has one of my CDs is kind of cool."
The release show is at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern at 10 p.m. Saturday with Stephen Foster and The Awesomes and William Wesley and the Tiny Sockets. $5. www.weirdpaul.com.
Phat Man Dee's Cavalcade
• Phat Man Dee and her Cavalcade of Stars N'At! is a new concept at Mr. Smalls that combines jazz, salsa, gospel, hip-hop, rock 'n' roll, burlesque and belly dance.
The lineup for tonight's debut features Phat Man Dee's cabaret jazz group The Cultural District; her husband's rock band Amoeba Knievel; a live webcast from guitarist Colter Harper in Ghana; Machete Kisumontao, featuring vocals by Puerto Rican songbird Gena; gospel artist Rev. Deryck Tines; rapper HollyHood and more.
It begins at 7 p.m. Free for those 21 and older; $2 for anyone under 21. www.mrsmalls.com.
• Second Empire, a Pittsburgh-based symphonic metal band that draws comparisons to Evanescence and Lacuna Coil, headlines Sardonyx Productions' Rocktoberfest at Mr. Smalls Saturday.
Jayson Shell, host of Insane Realm Radio's Metal Factory, emcees the show, which also features Stark, Long Time Divided and Chip DiMonick. The all-ages show begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $10. www.mrsmalls.com.
Marketing your band
• Bands looking for advice on how to brand their product, write press releases, develop logos, form a street team and more can find it in the new booklet "Marketing 101."
It's written by local marketing professional and writer James A. Richards, who created PGHevents.com and edits the Pittsburgh A&E Book.
"Considering how so many local bands lack basic marketing skills, the booklet is important for them," he says.
"Marketing 101" is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble online for less than $10.