Josh Bakaitus is the Vice President of Drusky Entertainment, which has been named Pittsburgh's Best Concert Promoter three years in a row. Josh has been making headlines in the local scene with his involvement in Drusky Entertainment and the Strip District Music Festival. FoundSound Music interviewed Josh to learn more about the man who is dedicated to putting Pittsburgh on the map.
1. How did you get involved in the Pittsburgh music scene?
Back in the year 2000 I ran a local music website called PittBands.com. Although I was too young to really go to shows or involve myself in the local music scene, this is what really started it all. From there, I began networking with bands and started promoting shows in the city limits in about 2003. In 2005, I stopped promoting shows in my hometown and moved everything to Pittsburgh.
2. What are your primary responsibilities at Drusky Entertainment?
Primarily I book shows, but everybody within the company has a lot of different responsibilities. We're actually a pretty small company, so we all pitch in anywhere we can. I book shows, design our posters, deal with marketing, production, show settlements and also oversee the whole operation with my partner Brian. It's tiresome at times but I enjoy it very much.
3. How do you find and connect with local bands?
Various ways! I have a large database of active and inactive local bands. Most of the time I have local bands in mind when I'm booking a show; when that doesn't work out I send out alerts to our local bands. In addition, I frequently scan Bandcamp and Soundcloud for good local music.
4. Are there any local bands in particular that people should check out?
Oh man, there are so many local bands right now that are great and on the way up! But, if I were to mention a couple in particular, I really like what Cid is doing. They have a this IDGAF attitude and just play the songs they want. I like that. Eternal Sleep are also one of those bands coming up nationally but are from Pittsburgh.
5. What are some of your favorite shows (both nationally and local) that you've seen in Pittsburgh?
That's a tough one; I've seen a lot of shows over the years. I'd say honestly that the most powerful shows for me happened when I was younger. I remember every single moment of when Thursday played Roboto supporting their album "Full Collapse" back in 2003. They opened up with Piebald. That was a really special show for me. I really like July Talk from Canada. One of the best live bands I've ever seen. Do yourself a favor and go to their live show the next time they're in town.
6. Where do you envision the Pittsburgh music scene going in the future?
It's been on the rise since since 2010. As long as there remains a stage for youthful artists to express their emotions and to share their music, there will continue to be a local scene on the rise. More all ages shows to fuel us all! With events like the Strip District Music Festival, Deutschtown Music Festival, Skull Fest, and R.A.N.T.popping up, more people will come to the city and be exposed to local musicians. These events are great shows for people who are interested in the local music scene but cannot go to every single show. Pittsburgh's local music scene is strong right now. For people who say we have a bad local music scene, they really need to educate themselves on what's actually happening right now. They need to go to more shows and listen to a wider variety of music.
7. So how did the Strip District Music Festival start?
Although the idea of doing a neighborhood-wide festival was something I've considered for a few years, it was not clear to me until last year that then was the time and the Strip District would be the place. I was trying to fill sparse winter dates at Altar Bar when the idea of bringing Pittsburgh to the entire neighborhood rather than just to the club crossed my mind. From there it happened pretty quickly and organically.
8. What's new about the Strip District Music Festival this year?
What's different this year is that we're programmed nearly double the amount of bands and venues than 2015. We've introduced more genres for a wider range of music fans as well as a comedy / podcast stage at Maggie's Farm Rum Room.
9. What are some of your hopes for the Strip District Music Festival in the future?
Most importantly, my main agenda is for it to maintain the local aesthetic. I want this event to be a driving force for the local music scene in Pittsburgh. Beyond the attendance numbers, I look at this event and think to myself; "How is this impacting Pittsburgh?," "Is this inspiring people to play music," & "Is this something that anybody who lives here would find enjoyment in?" If I can maintain those elements, I look at this as a successful venture.
10. What do you think makes the Pittsburgh music scene unique?
It's certainly helps that Pittsburgh music community is actually rather small (but thriving). Everybody knows everybody and there is a strong sense of comradery among all musicians here. I find it rare where musicians are not supporting and enthusiastic about peers releasing new albums, going to their shows and just generally supporting each other.
To find out about Drusky Entertainment's upcoming shows, check our their website: http://www.druskyentertainment.com/
To learn more about the Strip District Music Festival, and the full lineup check out the Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/events/888264744583346/