I do have something cool to talk about tonight, though. Last week I went to a comedy show on campus called Friday Nite Improvs. In fact, on typing this I think I want to make this a two-part post.
1) Friday Nite Improvs. This thing has been around since 1989, thanks to a group of theater graduate students at Pitt who created a workshop to help actors with their improvisational skills. Now, every Friday at 11 Pitt students and Pittsburgh locals can make their way to the basement of the Cathedral of Learning and take part in an all-audience participation improv stand-up show. There’s a $3 entrance fee to cover some rent payments, and anything left over is donated to a cause each year; last year the extra money went to a Haiti assistance fund. And the best part is, these shows really are hilarious. The host has gone out of his way to make up games with rules that guarantee the improv will be entertaining. The best rule of all? “Failure is OK.” Which is good, because I personally have failed at my attempts. Some of us aren’t made to be that funny, but I’m glad I tried it, anyway. Best of all, I know a great place I can go a Friday night if I’ve had a rough week and I need to unwind. I have always left with sore sides from laughing so hard.
Their website: http://fnipgh.com/
One nice thing about FNI is that it offers a section of the show called “Showcase” where people can come demonstrate their talents. Which leads me to the reason I wanted to make a quick late night update:
2) Brad Yoder. This guy shows up at FNI at least once a semester and I go out of way to go and see him at this venue at least, if not at other areas around Pittsburgh. Yoder is very good and very unappreciated. I actually just wrote a CD review for work, so I’m hoping soon I’ll be able to provide a link for that. But for now, we’ll have to settle with a mini bio.
Don’t ask me for sure what his age is, I’ve guessed very close to 40. Yoder graduated Goshen College in Indiana before making his way to Pittsburgh. Originally aspiring to be a jazz player, he evolved into a singer, songwriter, and guitar player who does still occasionally take up a saxophone. He’s had a song appeared on “NUMB3RS” on CBS, another run on a DVD release of “Dawson’s Creek,” and another one featured Pittsburgh History Museum's 9/11 Memorial exhibit. Still, he’s a humble fellow who works hard to make his music heard, yet truly writes for himself. In his own words, “You have to define success on your own terms.” Yoder gets satisfaction he gets from writing, venting his feelings onto paper and connecting with other people with his songs. The result is that he really has some harmonious, emotional pieces under his belt. Some are faster and energized, while others are slow acoustics that truly capture some essence of what we as humans deal with during our life. This really is one of the few artists I know who can capture the sensation of remembering an old lover or spending an entire night out with a friend perfectly – not to mention loss and regret.
Yoder’s actually appeared on this blog before; he wrote “Guardian Angel,” one of my top five favorite songs for the year and probably overall as well. Recently, he’s added a couple more fantastic songs to my iPod thanks to his new CD. It came out this past weekend, and I think I fell in love all over again.
“Excellent Trouble” to me is an improvement in what was already solid, beautiful technique. The songs are all just well written and emotional, with ties to lost friends, gay rights, and the simple beauty of running around with a friend or remembering an old lover. I was just pleasantly surprised all around by how wonderful this whole thing sounds. It literally soothes the soul, pulls a heartstring, and is, to use one more cliché I usually avoid, music to my ears.
I highly encourage anyone and everyone to check out this artist. I think he’s one of the most talented folks Pittsburgh has to offer.
More on Yoder:
His website – http://www.bradyoder.com/
An interview - http://www.performingartsschools.com/interviews/brad-yoder.html