| Beaver County Times
I got to see a local album release show last week and be home at a decent hour.
Those two things don’t normally co-exist, but Beaver County rocker Andre Costello found a cool way to introduce new music during a pandemic.
With their gear set up in a Millvale studio, Costello and his indie-rock band, the Cool Minors, filmed a 24-minute live YouTube performance in which they introduced two new songs and stretched out on a few older ones.
Here, I’ll let Costello, of Franklin Township, explain more:
“So, live music isn’t so much of a thing right now. People are getting creative, though, and doing socially distanced shows outside, which is great. But even then, a lot of people don’t want to risk it,” Costello said. “Right now, we’re recording a new album. We have been for the last couple years. During this time, if everything were normal, we’d be playing shows and trying out some of the new material. Giving it air. Letting it vent. So, we decided to do just that, but in a way that people can enjoy a show, safely at home — without sacrificing quality.”
Their high-quality film, shot by a pro, utilizes multi-camera angles and zoomed-in close-up footage to make viewers feel they were in the front-row for a show.
Visuals have always been important to Costello — the guy who’s played two Buhl Planetarium concerts set to live lasers — so in this case, he drove to Weirton, W.Va., to acquire a neat-looking stage backdrop with a nature scene, like something you’d see in a museum exhibit.
Andre Costello and the Cool Minors’ debuted their live video Oct. 9 with a little preshow hype on Facebook, which linked to the YouTube video. The band built anticipation with a two-minute countdown of funny music. To further set the mood, Costello posted the message, “Pretend you’re out late to see the band on a weeknight, it’s past midnight and they’re just now coming on… (yell) ‘COME ON I GOTTA WORK TOMORROW!'”
Been there, done that.
But thanks to the YouTube link, folks like me, who missed the Friday night live performance, were able to watch the full stream the following afternoon. The free link drew about 270 views, initially, which would be a good turnout for a normal CD release show in some hipster Pittsburgh bar.
Costello and the Cool Minors sounded great, evoking an indie-jam style reminiscent of My Morning Jacket.
“We were so happy with how it turned out, we decided to release the tracks as a live EP so people can jam to it in their car or while their doing other stuff without going on YouTube to put it on.”
You can find that EP on Spotify.
Many esteemed Pittsburgh musical peers praised Costello for the top-notch video, including the Clarks’ Rob James, Punchline’s Steve Soboslai, Ellwood City’s Jeff Wiley, Josh Verbanets (Meeting of Important People), Addi Twigg (Cisco Kid) and Isiah Ross (Jack Swing).
With the outdoor concert season running low on time, we’re staring at months of streaming performances again. I’d recommend any band contemplating a streamed concert to study the manner in which Costello did one. A little prep and production goes a long way.
“Hopefully we’ll do another one of these shows sometime soon,” Costello said. “In the meantime, we’re gonna keep plugging away on this next album. It’s a weird time to put out a full album, when you can’t hit the road to support it, so we might just start dropping singles like breadcrumbs and hopefully they’ll get us through until we can play in-person shows again.”
PSO front row
Enjoy a virtual front row seat for the Pittsburgh Symphony, when Comcast premieres a new concert and interview series starring the Grammy Award-winning orchestra.
“Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Front Row: The PSO Virtual Experience” will be available On Demand.
And here’s something I never thought I’d say: Comcast will offer it for free.
The debut episode at 7:30 p.m. Monday is titled, “Our Love for Pittsburgh.” The virtual curtain rises to the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings” and continues with works from composers such as Jessie Montgomery, Ennio Morricone and Billy Strayhorn.
Acclaimed violinist Alexi Kenney is guest concertmaster.
The five-episode, 60- to 90-minute series will show the PSO in classical, pops and holiday modes. Wait till audiences see how dynamic new pops conductor Byron Stripling is.
The series also can be watched on computers, tablets and smart phones via pittsburghsymphony.org.
Yellow Brick Road in Beaver
There will be candles in the wind, all right, when the “Tribute to the Music of Elton John” happens next July 17 in Beaver.
Hundreds of spectators seated in Linn Park, along River Road, will witness a night of 28 Elton John classics performed by a local all-star band that will include keyboardist Joe Munroe, singer Katie Simone, guitarist Mark Polera, violinist Bob Banerjee and some hired pros from Nashville.
The full-scale production will include a two-tier professional stage used at Pittsburgh events.
Tickets go on sale Feb. 3, ranging from $7 if you bring your own chair, to $40 for Sections 1, 2 and 3, for a fundraiser for Beaver Parks and Recreation.
Sponsor tables in front of the stage will include luminary style candles ready to flicker in the night as the featured vocalist sings, “Goodbye, Norma Jean …”
Beaver businessman Larry Renninger is the mastermind behind this show, and I’m told he recently hosted quite a backyard rehearsal jam by a bunch of the band members.
I’ll update you as the on-sale date draws near, but consider this show a sign that larger-sized concerts will return in 2021.
As “Bennie and the Jets” says, you’re gonna hear electric music, solid walls of sound.
Especially if we all do our part to halt the spread of the coronavirus, so wear your masks and wash your hands diligently.
Scott Tady is entertainment editor at The Times and easy to reach at [email protected]