In its fourth year, Pittsburgh’s Deutschtown Music Festival has grown from a modest gathering of 46 bands in a single evening to a two-day music crawl across the North Side showcasing 189 bands. Co-founder Cody Walters had to whittle down the number from 400 submissions so the 24 venues at bars and outdoor stages could play host to the eclectic mix of music offered, and two with Washington County ties made the cut.
“The original festival was intended to be a community event celebrating the North Side. But it’s not a Pittsburgh event anymore. It’s a regional gathering that brings people across the state to see the really diverse local music scene that keeps getting better,” Walters said.
The free event Friday and Saturday is expected to draw 15,000 people across the North Side between East Ohio Street and East North Avenue and extending to Penn Brewery on Troy Hill Road. Both acts featuring Washington County natives – Shannon and The Merger and The Danzas – play Saturday.
“We’re the Merger because we merged from all different bands, kind of like a supergroup of interests,” said guitarist Bob Giacometti of Washington, whose band plays at James Street Gastropub at 1 p.m.
The blues and classic rock band plays its own versions of contemporary pop tunes like of Bruno Mars, while offering up its own staple originals.
“It really depends on the crowd. The dance music we’ve been getting into because there’s a demand for that, but we have a harmonica player and can jam down, too,” Giacometti said of the five-piece group making its first appearance at the festival.
For some pop-punk flavor, the power trio The Danzas plays Allegheny City Brewing at 5 p.m.
“We’re a pop-punk band that’s just goofy and fun. Melodic, up-tempo stuff that’s influenced by everything from NOFX to the Ramones and Blink-182. We have our second CD coming out in the fall, but we’re like how three suburban dads might approach pick-up basketball. We’ve been playing for over 12 years but just got around to playing in front of people after spending so much time recording,” said drummer Joe Nadberazny of Washington.
The Danzas are returning for their second time to play Deutschtown and may play a song they wrote honoring a North Side landmark: Randyland.
“We met Randy (Gilson) and he came up on stage and sang it with us,” Nadberazny said of the artist known for the 40-foot high mural of bright, psychedelic colors on Arch Avenue.
Finding talent is the “full-time job that doesn’t pay” for Walters, who has volunteered to coordinate the festival every year.
“I don’t get to see many of the bands despite listening to them all and booking them,” Walters said, “but this scene is indescribable now. It’s just so amazing to see the collaborative attitude of bands in the Pittsburgh region working to help each other. The talent and the heart on display is absolutely amazing.”
A full schedule and map of events is available at http://deutschtownmusicfestival.org/. Music from the bands can be streamed at http://shannonandthemerger.com/ and http://www.thedanzas.com/.