Notes from the Road - Connections in Pittsburgh Saturday, July 21st Again, a nice drive over from York to Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania is a beautiful state and I’ve only seen a narrow corridor of it. I understand that the upper portions of the state are really breathtaking and wish I had more time to wander. Maybe when I get the motor home . . . . Now I have to admit that my first impressions of Pittsburgh weren’t stellar. My borrowed GPS routed me south of the city to the West Miflin area where my hotel is located. There are some pretty tattered looking areas that I came through to get where I was going. And, my first impression of Connections wasn’t much better. A bright blue building that sinks below street level with little signage to identify it in an old area of Pittsburgh in between the campuses of Pitt U and Carnegie-Mellon. I could only peek through the edges of shaded windows to the dark interior (it wasn’t open yet) and saw nothing inside to lead me to believe that this was going to be much of a show. I could not have been more wrong. When I came back at around 6:00 pm to set up I found a truly exceptional music room. John and Esther were there and had set up their first rate sound system on the raised, spacious stage. The high, open structure ceiling offered terrific acoustics to a very comfortable room with tables, chairs, couches and upholstered arm chairs which, with folding seating (also available) could hold 120 easily. The room is provided and maintained by The New Hope Church (an independent, progressive congregation) and during the week provides a comfortable study and gathering space for students of Pitt and Carnegie-Mellon. They offer their wall space, which is substantial and appropriately lit, to local artists to display their work. They have focused their first year on the physical aspects of the space (doing a truly first rate job I might add) and are now in the process of building the weekend music program. Greg Voss is the man in charge, ably assisted by volunteers like David who video taped an interview with me before the show and recorded a pod cast which will be posted on the net in the future. Another volunteer, Ryan, manned the full coffee and snack bar in the back of the room behind the stage. The music program is still in its early stages and has not yet built a consistent following. Consequently, the crowd for the show was small, but wonderfully attentive and appreciative. From my involvement over the years with building concert programs and small venues like this, I am well aware of the time and commitment it takes to find the right promotional avenues to produce the attendance necessary to support this type of venue long term. Greg Voss and his staff are committed and I know they are going to see the fruits of their labors very soon. I would welcome the opportunity to come back and play this room again. If you are in the Pittsburgh area please check out Connections at 3495 Bates Street - South Oakland - 412.621.6760. They are on MySpace at and on the web at As I mentioned, Greg Voss is the main man here. You can reach him by email at and by phone at 412-621-6760. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND CONNECTIONS!!! Sunday, July 22nd I’m going to wander towards Columbus, Ohio today - maybe stop in Wheeling, WV and find a cheap room with laundry facilities. I’ve got a week of dirty clothes to take care of. Ahhhh, the glamour of the road!