This is homecoming weekend for Jimmer Podrasky, the Natrona Heights native who left Pittsburgh for LA as the frontman for The Rave-Ups in the '80s and hasn't returned since his father died in 1990.
The singer-songwriter-guitarist performs with a local backup band Friday night at The Pittsburgh Winery and opens for The Clarks Saturday at Stage AE.
Mr. Podrasky, profiled here in February, released his first album in 24 years, "The Would-Be Plans," over the winter and has been active in the music scene after a long hiatus to raise his son, Chance.
His long journey since graduating from Carnegie Mellon University includes two major label albums to go with the fine indie release "Town and Country," a stint in the A&M Records mailroom, a romance with Molly Ringwald's sister Beth, an appearance in the movie "Pretty in Pink," fatherhood, a second career as a script reader for the William Morris Agency and recent financial hardships.
Helping to pull him back into the music world were old Natrona Heights friend Ed Sikov (who executive produced his album), drummer-producer Mitch Marine (Smash Mouth/Dwight Yoakam's band) and Robbie Rist (cousin Oliver from "The Brady Bunch"). His comeback album, which picks up where The Rave-Ups left off with a rootsy/alt-country sound (once called cowpunk), has been well received by the media. It has gotten him back on stage quite frequently, both solo and with The Rave-Ups.
"I had no expectations," he says, "so I guess whatever has occurred has already exceeded anything I'd hoped for. I think the biggest highlight is simply making music again and performing."
He'll be backed here by a group of admiring local musicians who would have been a little too young to play with him in the late '70s/early '80s: bassist/organizer Rod Schwartz (11th Hour, Aviation Blondes), drummer Dave Klug (Hector in Paris/Spuds) and guitarists Steve Morrison (Affordable Floors) and Steve Seel (The Reckoning/Callan).
"Naturally, I'm excited to see the city again and to see some old friends," Mr. Podrasky says. "I'd really like to visit the CMU campus and to eat at Primanti Brothers. I'll even break my gluten-free diet to eat one of those sandwiches!"
Along with the three shows in Pittsburgh, his agenda includes a stop in Philadelphia at WXPN's "Free At Noon" (July 18) and "World Cafe Live" (July 20).
He has yet to get any radio support here.
"I don't think any stations in Pittsburgh are supporting the record," he says. "Radio is a fickle girl sometimes."