Local Scene in Music: Phat Man Dee and Liz Berlin bring April Fool's Joke to life
October 27, 2016 12:00 AM
Singers Phat Man Dee and Liz Berlin.
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
April Fools’ joke brought to life
On April Fools’ Day, jazz cabaret singer Phat Man Dee posted on Facebook: “I am so excited to announce mine and Liz Berlin's new social justice disco album!!! We will be reworking Woody Guthrie’s classic works like ‘All You Fascists Are Bound for Hell’ and Anne Feeney’s ‘Have You Been to Jail for Justice?’ into high energy dance anthems, backed by the fusion force of Rusted Root and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra!”
Among the comments was one from a friend who wrote, “That’s the problem with your April fools jokes. Any wacky nut job thing is totally possible!”
And he was right! Six months later, her wacky nut job thing has come true. At least part of it. While Rusted Root and the PSO (currently on strike) are not on board, the two singers, who go way back as friends and social activists/musicians, are recording “Social Justice Disco: Songs to Fight Fascists By” at Mr. Smalls Recording and Mastering Studio.
The debut single, “Fourth Reich Arising,” will get its digital release on Monday (Halloween) at the Acousticafé Open Stage at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls in Millvale, which is co-owned by Ms. Berlin, a founding member of Root. They will also perform three songs from the album, which will include originals as well as, naturally, covers by Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg, Anne Feeney, They Might Be Giants and more.
They’ve assembled a social justice disco supergroup in guitarists Mark F. Strickland and Carlos Peña, bassist Mike Speranzo (Ms. Berlin’s husband and Smalls co-owner), percussionist Miguel Sague III, violinist Megan Williams and drummer Jeremy Papay.
The single will be available that night for download on CD Baby, and they will also launch an Indiegogo campaign to fund the project.
“Liz and I have been working on fighting the rising tide of hate and horror in the only way we know how, through music,” Phat Man Dee says.
Doors open for the open stage for 18+ sign-up from 6 to 7 p.m., and 21+ sign-up at 7 p.m.
Kellee, Peachie take on Trump
Pittsburgh rapper Kellee Maize has jumped into the political fray with “#MakeLoveNotTrump,” a lively new song that parodies Mac Miller’s 2010 breakout hit “Donald Trump.”
She delivers the anti-Trump protest track in a celebratory Pittsburgh-centric video filled with news images and local sports logos and complete with cameos from Peachie Wimbush and DJ Bonics, Wiz Khalifa’s mom and DJ, respectively; Liz Berlin of Rusted Root; and Chris #2 from Anti-Flag.
The video is set to go up on Huffington Post with a corresponding article she’s written on how, she says, “Trump’s rhetoric and fear mongering in general actually causes brain damage” and what you can do to counteract the effects.
Anti-Flag vs. TPP
Speaking of Anti-Flag, the Pittsburgh political punks will headline Rock Against the TPP at Mr. Smalls on Nov. 3 with Anne Feeney, Downtown Boys, Taina Asili, Ryan Harvey, Son of Nun and Evan Greer.
The show is a protest against the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement supported by the Obama administration. Admission is free with an RSVP at www.rockagainstthetpp.org/pittsburgh-pa.
I.C. Light Hillbillys
Pittsburgh country rockers The Hillbilly Way, featuring former members of PovertyNeck Hillbillies, including singer Abby Abbondanza, have entered into a partnership with I.C. Light.
“Best Night of Our Lives,” a new single by The Hillbilly Way written by the Grammy-nominated Thompson Square and JT Harding, will be used in a series of I.C. Light commercials beginning next week.
“When Pittsburgh natives think of home they think of I.C. Light, and we are flattered to now be a part of those memories,” the singer said in a statement.
Keep an eye out for a release party for “The Decade: Images of Modern America,” the photo-driven book written by Gabby Means, daughter of former Decade owner Dom DiSilvio. They’re looking at Thanksgiving weekend, possibly at the Garage Doors, the former site of the legendary rock club.
Third Eye Blind will headline the 105.9 The X Kickass Christmas show at Stage AE on Dec. 11. The alt-rock band from San Francisco had a run of hits in the late- ’90s that included “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper” and “How’s It Going to Be.”
Also on the bill will be British garage rockers The Struts (who played Altar Bar earlier this year), Holy White Hounds and Daily Grind. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at ticketmaster.com.
Elvis in Akron
That Nov. 1 Evening With Elvis Costello and The Imposters, canceled at Heinz Hall due to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s labor dispute, was a major disappointment to fans and a pretty big blow to the fall concert schedule.
The good news is there appears to be tickets available to see him Friday night at the Akron Civic Theatre. Go to ticketmaster or www.elviscostello.com/dance-card.
— Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg
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