Rockin' like DVE
• Being based 2,500 miles away did not stop Greg Hoy from his latest mission.
"My goal," he says, "was to write and record an album that sounds like 40 minutes of drive time on WDVE. I wanted to capture the sights, the sounds ... the smells of a hard-working rock band in Pittsburgh."
The singer-guitarist, who was based here in the '90s before moving to Brooklyn and then the Bay Area, has worked in a number of different genres, from garage-punk to indie-math metal to power-pop, appearing under his own name and with such bands as Brainstorm Sheen, Last Town Chorus, Yearbook and Peg Simone.
This latest project, "Hair of the Mouth," falls under the banner of Greg Hoy and the Enablers -- guitarist Paul Labrise, bassist Ray Vasko, drummer Tom Emmerling -- drawing from such bands as the Frampton Brothers, Breakup Society and Bitter Delores.
Although the band has been together for 10 years, it has played only about 20 times.
"Every time we play, we savor it," Mr. Hoy says. "Tom just moved back to Pittsburgh. We were all at each other's weddings, helped through traumatic events, etc. I'd say around the '00s living in New York I felt the whole live scene evolving and people weren't going out to shows as much. Somehow, playing one or two times a year with these guys is always a highlight. We don't take it for granted at all."
The album was tracked at Mr. Vasko's house and finished in Mr. Hoy's loft in San Francisco, where 'DVE was on his mind. It hits with 11 killer guitar-rock songs, like the frantic "Jet Black Get Back!," the psych-laced "Any Lovin's Good Lovin," the roadhouse blues of "Flowers on My Grave" and "Yr Ceiling," which would be more like if DVE played Guided by Voices.
"Listening to DVE growing up in Beaver County was a lot of how I learned to write rock 'n' roll songs -- for better or worse," he says. "Since it was my band in Pittsburgh and this was the first thing I was writing 'for us' specifically, the idea became my guide. I'm embarrassed by how easily channeling Billy Gibbons, Joe Walsh and Ram Jam became. And, you know, we're dedicating it to Pittsburgh, so there's that."
What took him to the West Coast was too hard to resist.
He got hired by Facebook in 2011 and put in charge of hiring its design team.
"Pre-IPO, just after 'The Social Network,'" he says, "and I was coming out of a marriage. Trifecta of universe-provided new starts. Insane times. It was the most immersed I've ever been in my work."
He left Facebook in August for a job with Pinterest, so he should have no problem marketing his stuff via social media. He plays his first SF gig in March.
Before that, Greg Hoy and the Enablers play Garfield Artworks at 8 tonight with Ruby Buff, Janelle, and Boiled Denim. Admission is $5.
• SuperMonkey frontman Chris Groblewski had a rather modest goal for the band's first full-length album.
"I got together with my band last year and said I want to make the best rock album in the history of Pittsburgh."
SuperMonkey now puts "Pennsylvania Blues Revolution" out there to compete with such classics as the Iron City Houserockers' "Have a Good Time (But Get out Alive)," Donnie Iris' "Back on the Streets" and The Cynics' "Rock 'n' Roll."
SuperMonkey doesn't reinvent the wheel, going for a gritty bar-blues sound on "Blues in B" and "Last Rock God," among others.
"It's what I love to listen to and grew up with, it's what I love to play," Mr. Groblewski says.
He moved to Pittsburgh in 1995 formed the band in 2002 by hitting open stages. The name came via a conversation with early member Brian Lee.
"I wanted it to have something that started with Super, and I dunno maybe some kind of animal? He said Monkey, we both laughed and that was the name. I read the book by Donald Passman 'everything you need to know about the music business' and I knew you had to be a real business, so I set up SuperMonkey Enterprises under my name."
Along with the album, he's written a manifesto for local bands calling for more scene unity among bands and more help from the powers that be. It states in part: "Where's the love? Enough of the segregation, enough of the walls, enough of the egos. Let's all work together and help each other. Santana said 'you've got to change you're evil ways.' I know I hear the song three times a day on DVE. I'm kidding, that's another joke."
"I am happy about a great many things, and I have been treated and received very well by a great many people," Mr. Groblewski notes, pointing out Brian Drusky, who put him on some shows with national acts. "But there are those that will try to stop you in your life. It is your choice to let them stop you and accept defeat. Or you can hold true to your integrity and fight for your right to party."
SuperMonkey plays the Lava Lounge, South Side, at 10 tonight with Southside Allstars. Go to www.ilovesupermonkey.com for more on the band.
Billy the Kid takes 3rd
• Billy the Kid & The Regulators were on Beale Street Memphis late last month representing the Blues Society of Western Pa. in the 30th International Blues Challenge, run by The Blues Foundation.
The competition started with 255 acts from 40 states and 16 countries (and four continents). Billy and the Regulators, led by Billy Evanochko, did Pittsburgh proud, finishing in third place behind Mr. Sipp (of the Vicksburg Blues Society) and Ghost Town Blues Band (Memphis Blues Society).
The band plays a hometown gig at Moondog's, Blawnox, at 8 tonight with Pittsburgh native Barbara Blue, currently working the Memphis scene.