World Cafe revisits a 2002 studio session with Rusted Root as Sense of Place: Pittsburgh continues. The energetic, percussion-heavy band has become synonymous with the sound of the city. Formed in 1990, Rusted Root is a sextet featuring many instruments and styles; the group is known for blending acoustic rock with world music. Its percussion style is heavily influenced by the music of Africa, Latin America and Native America, while its lyrical content often touches on Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
World Cafe's day trip to Pittsburgh for Sense of Place kicks off with a session by the pop-rock trio Donora. Donora, made up of brother and sister Jake and Casey Hanner and bassist Jake Churton, is a second-generation band. The Hanner siblings are the offspring of Dave Hanner, from the country band Corbin/Hanner. As kids, they spent time in their father's studio, which influenced them to pursue music careers of their own; Casey sings and plays guitar and keyboards, while her brother plays drums. Eventually, their dad convinced them to perform together.
To find out about up-and-coming local bands for our Sense of Place stop in Pittsburgh, we went straight to one of the city's best-known sources: Cindy Howes, host of Morning Mix on NPR member station WYEP.
A close observer of Pittsburgh's music scene, Howes couldn't pick just five bands to feature on Wednesday's episode, so she gave us six. She also gives listeners insight into the wide variety of music playing at any given night in the clubs of Pittsburgh's East End.
Drummer Chick Webb's 1930s orchestra terrorized competitors in band battles and sent dancers into orbit at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. They could be similarly explosive on record, but only rarely. Early on, they did have some hot Edgar Sampson arrangements that Benny Goodman would soon turn into hits, like "Blue Lou" and "Don't Be That Way." But the Webb band also had an old-school crooner, Charles Linton, with pre-jazz-age enunciation.