Musicians communicate through song. They feed off the energy of live performances.
Many haven’t performed live for months because of the pandemic.
That hasn’t kept them from making new music for when they return to Pittsburgh-area venues.
There is one tune that’s about to be heard that will help the local music industry feel the love.
Western Pennsylvania musicians recorded “SOS 2020,” a song inspired by the Save Our Stages movement, to help struggling music venues. It’s a mixture of rock, punk and heavy metal.
“There are so many musicians who are sitting at home and who just want to go out and perform again,” said Bob McCutcheon, owner of The Vault Recording Studio on Neville Island. “They are tentative about releasing a song or album because usually when they do that they promote and roll out the music at in-person performances.”
Eric Rodger of the band Royal Honey wrote the song to share his frustration and concern for Pittsburgh music venues, performers, promoters and staff affected by the pandemic.
The Save Our Stages Act passed by Congress earlier this week will help provide grants to local venues, promoters and booking agents affected through a relief bill, but more support is needed, McCutcheon said.
“These venues were the first businesses to close and will be the last to open,” said McCutcheon. “The Save Our Stages Act will help but it won’t solve the problem. We want to raise awareness that help is still needed.”
The song and music video are planned for a Jan. 8 release via iTunes and streaming on major platforms. Proceeds will go to the National Independent Venue Association.
The association’s mission is to preserve independent venues and promoters throughout the U.S. The Giving Back Fund will oversee the process to receive grants from an emergency relief fund.
Venues, promoters and booking agents can join the association and apply for money.
There will be a matching amount up to $2,000 from The Ryan McCutcheon Rhythm19 Fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation.
In September of 2017, McCutcheon’s son Ryan, 19, was killed in an automobile accident in Ohio Township while returning to Robert Morris University where he was a sophomore. The fund was established by his family to keep his spirit alive through music.
There are over 60 musicians from 27 bands who donated their time to the new song.
Groups with ties to the Alle-Kiski Valley and Westmoreland County include The Redlines, A Common Crown, Black Ridge and Skell. Bill Domiano, who created the song’s website, Build the Scene, is a Vandergrift native who lives in Leechburg.
“This is an important group who individually don’t have a strong voice, but collectively, they do,” said McCutcheon.
He said Pittsburgh has lost at least 10 stages and many more have been temporarily closed because of covid restrictions.
It is difficult for musicians to make money solely off of sales of streaming songs. They need live performances, McCutcheon and Rodger said.
“There is nothing like the new release of a song with 200 or more people in the audience,” said McCutcheon. “Musicians feed off the energy from the audience and the audience responds.”
The money that is available through the Save Our Stages Act will provide some relief, Rodger said. He adds that there is a glimmer of hope to starting with the introduction of some in-person outdoor shows this summer or fall.
The concern is that 90% of local music venue owners are in significant financial hardship with the possibility of more permanent closures, Rodger said.
“I wanted to do something that put into action a way to help people now,” said Rodger, who came up with the idea when he looked at a calendar in the mirror and noticed that 2020’s reflection has ‘SOS’ in it.
That led him to start humming what he calls “a cheesy melody to myself.”
“That’s terrible,” I thought to myself,” he said of the tune. “Please forget that!”
But he couldn’t get the reoccurring words out of his head. He sang to McCutcheon who thought it was a great idea and pretty much every band they asked said yes.
“There is no greater feeling in this world than hearing an idea from inside your head now coming through the speakers,” Rodger said. “We had rock bands, punk bands, and metal bands. We had national people with local ties. More importantly, we had a music community all pulling for the same thing … helping our venues, promoters, sound engineers and stage personnel, who were all getting crushed economically.”
Here’s the lineup of artists involved in the recording of “SOS 2020,” a song inspired by the Save Our Stages movement to help struggling music venues.
Music and lyrics: Eric Rodger
Producer: Anthony “Rocky” Lamonde
Recorded and mixed: Bob McCutcheon, The Vault Recording Studio
Drums: Eric Rodger
Bass: Mike Ekis
Organ: Hermie Granati
Guitars: Dave Buzard, David Granati, Dave Musick, Eric Rodger, Jim Dofka, Keith Nelson, Vinnie Q
13 SAINTS/WE CAME FROM SPACE
Dave Buzard – lead guitar
A COMMON CROWN
Jen Craven – vocals
Steve Craven – backing vocals
Kyle Matovcik – backing vocals
Jay Snider – backing vocals
Matt Ferrante – backing vocals
Paul Guerrini – vocals
Paul Cha – backing vocals
Tony Lassick – backing vocals
Mark Ponsonby – vocals
Rocky Lamonde – producer
Vinny Q – guitar
Joe Pelesky – backing vocals
Keith Nelson – lead guitar
CHIP & THE CHARGE UPS
Chip Dominick – vocals
Maleena Dominick – vocals
J.J. Mason – vocals
Eric Rodger – backing vocals
Jim Dofka – lead guitar
Domenic Fusca – vocals
Chris Allen – vocals
Collin Farren – backing vocals
Jesse Farren – backing vocals
Tim Aymar – vocals
Jack Buckholt – backing vocals
Eric Rymers – backing vocals
Jeff Loy – backing vocals
HOMICIDE BLACK / HALF WHEEL
Sean Nestor – vocals
Jazz Byers – backing vocals
JOHNNY AND THE RAZORBLADES
John Stoecker – vocals
Justin Palencsar – vocals
Charlie Hughes – backing vocals
Kyle Stubbs – backing vocals
MURDER FOR GIRLS
Tammy Wallace – vocals
Michele Dunlap – vocals
Jonathan Bagamery – backing vocals
ORANGE MAMMOTH / EGOMYTH
Darren Hammel – backing vocals
Sean Estep – backing vocals
Bobby Collins – vocals
Angelo Amantea – backing vocals
Dave Musick – lead guitar and backing vocals
Eric Rodger – drums, guitar and backing vocals
Liz Berlin – vocals
Patrick Norman – vocals
Mike Ekis – bass
STONE COLD KILLER
Nate Offutt – vocals
Curtis Botzer – backing vocals
Dave Keber – backing vocals
Todd Porter – vocals
Kyle Stubbs – backing vocals
THE FILTHY LOWDOWN
Abe Balestra – vocals
THE GRANATI BROTHERS
David Granati – guitar
Hermie Granati – organ
THE LEGENDARY HUCKLEBUCKS
Ted Boyko – vocals
Brian Seese – vocals
Jason Lizzi – backing vocals
Tony Vinski – backing vocals
THE REGAL SWEET
Ryan Moore – backing vocals
Lee Hintenlang- backing vocals