Randy Jarosz is the man behind Sound Scene Express, a local music outlet dedicated covering the regional scene and supporting live music. Randy can be seen at events across the city, interviewing bands, covering shows, and taking incredible photographs. FoundSound had the opportunity to chat with Randy about Sound Scene, local music, and his love for the Steel City.
1. How did you start Sound Scene Express?
Sound Scene Express was created about two and a half years ago with the idea of creating an all music newspaper. I figured I would put my love of concerts and photography skills to good use. I have two scrap books filled with concert stubs, articles, and memorabilia over a fifteen year period. I stopped keeping up with that around the time I started the blog, so the website is almost an extension of the scrapbooks I started at fifteen!
2. What are your primary responsibilities at S.S.E?
I am photographer, writer, editor, publisher and designer.
3. So is S.S.E. a one-man job? Or do you have a team to help you out?
Sound Scene is 90% me. I get occasional writing and photography help. More volunteers are always welcome!
4. What have been your favorite shows to photograph for S.S.E?
Pittsburgh band Bastard Bearded Irishmen are always fun to cover. They bring so much energy and the songs are great. Deutschtown Music Festival, R.A.N.T. and the Strip District Music Festival are always a blast and remind you just how talented Pittsburgh musicians are. Some recent notable national shows covered were My Morning Jacket, Gary Clark Jr., and Lake Street Dive.
5. S.S.E. has an annual "best of" list- how did that get started, and how are acts judged?
The "best of" list was just a recap of the year with a chance to recognize those who put so much into the local music scene. This year I decided to put together a concert to commemorate the list. Many large cities have music awards, so why not Pittsburgh? This year I have nine categories, four of which were a fan vote, and four were decided by Sound Scene Express with the final award being another fan vote at the concert. The four fan vote categories included: Breakout Band of the Year, Best Local Music Video, Coolest Music event/ Series. Sound Scene Express decided Best LP, Best EP, Best Concert, and Best Single based on countless submissions throughout 2015. Photo of the year will also be decided at the show. I chose to do it this way to get the community involved, but at the same time I didn't want the categories to turn into a popularity contest. The concert will be held February 6th at James Street Gastropub in the ballroom. Bands include Nevada Color, The Commonheart, Balloon Ride Fantasy, and Chase the Monkey, all of which had a huge 2015. Danny Rectenwald of the Bastard Bearded Irishmen will be the guest host.
6. How did you get involved with the Pittsburgh Music Scene?
When Sound Scene Express was created, I had intentions of shooting all the big national touring acts. That didn't quite happen. Having a professional camera and website didn't qualify me as "Press" to some. Content is key and at the time I had very little. I started covering some of the high profile local acts in the area and just fell in love with the scene. Local independent artists are more appreciative to see pictures and read about their show than a touring band. It didn't take long to find out how much talent there is throughout Pittsburgh.
7. What have been some of your favorite concerts in Pittsburgh (both local or touring acts?)
As far as shows I have attended in Pittsburgh, The Rolling Stones (both at Heinz Field and at PNC Park with Pearl Jam) were memorable. AC/DC at Mellon Area in 2009 was also fantastic. In my concert hey-days, I had seen concerts in ten different states including The Doobie Brothers in Hawaii, Crosby Stills Nash & Young at Red Rocks in Colorado, Paul McCartney at the Hollywood Bowl in California, and Michael Jackson at a benefit concert in D.C.
8. What do you think makes the Pittsburgh Music Scene unique?
What's unique about the Pittsburgh Music Scene is that you can name me any genre and I can give you a band that is as good or better than a touring act in the same genre.
9. Where do you see the Pittsburgh Music Scene's future heading?
It will only grow from here! With HughShows monthly TV show featuring local musicians, three all-day music festivals with local bands, record labels like Misra, Get Hip, and Future Oak, and the Sound Scene Express newspaper which launched in January, the future is extremely bright! The list of reasons go far beyond the few I just pointed out!
To learn more about Sound Scene Express, check out their website: http://www.soundsceneexpress.com and follow their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/sndsceneexpress/?fref=ts
Check out the Sound Scene Express Best of 2015 show at James St. this Saturday, February 6th! Poster below: