Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Conversation with comedian Davon Magwood

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Davon Magwood has been making his presence felt for several years in the stand-up comedy arena in Pittsburgh and it's only a matter of time before he becomes a national draw and will not be able to have the access we currently have to him.  Which I feel is no better than time than now to feature him and catch up with this talented comedian before his live special at the Rex on Friday, March 14.  I will include information on where to purchase tickets and contact information for Davon at the end of this interview.  I really enjoy his style and his ability to keep an audience engaged and he's quite an intelligent individual.  I don't think you can be a dummy and be very good at stand-up.  I guess anything is possible, but this isn't one of those examples.  Sit back and relax...

What kind of kid were you growing up? 

I was pretty much Steve Urkele. I read a lot, wrote a lot. Me and my brother would make up comic books. I really loved playing in the woods and catching frogs and stuff. I was pretty obsessed with the X-file so I started a club in middle school you know to get the ladies. I was just a very nerdy kids with a very active mind.

What were your favorite toys? 

My WWF wrestling dudes, my Sega, and my library card

What kind of student were you? 

That depended on my mood, I got very bored with a subject very fast. And If I wasn't challenged I would nap. But I loved English, and Theater. But I took a few years to get over my stage fright so I didn't act in any plays until my senior year.

Were you involved with any activities or sports?

I was in the Youth And Government which was probably my favorite program to be involved in, I got elected youth governor and had my name entered into the congressional library. I was class president, hated it, but I hated losing elections more. I played soccer, volleyball, and wrestling( i was the capt of the wrestling team). My favorite was the Marching Band, I was on the drum line and I did concert band as well. I love music and Ms. A was the best and knew how to work with me and my crazy manic self.  

What were your earliest memories of a comedian or comedy show?

I remember watching Bill Cosby's "Himself" with my siblings and Watching Drew Carey's "Make Me Laugh" and then me and my siblings would try to perform with each other.

Who are your biggest influences? 

Hannibal Buress because I've got to work with him a few times, and watching his process in real time and his hard work pay off is awesome, Beth Stelling is so funny and so super supportive and it's cool to see her do her thing. Liz Miele was the first comedy friend I made back in the "myspace days" I saw her on Comedy Central and I was like "yeah she's great" and I've gotten to she her perform a few time. and I chat with her most to bitch about stuff ,she's great. 
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What was the most memorable stand-up performance you saw live?

I'd have to say Dave Chappelle's come back show in Pittsburgh the day after that shit show in CT. To watch him live is like seeing a living legend it's crazy. 

Where was your favorite place that you have performed up to this point in your career? 

Seattle is my second home- the area is so beautiful and the crowds are super fun, and the comics are pretty welcoming, Then NYC because it's NYC there's always stuff to do, and mic to hit and you get to see pros just hang out.

What was the moment where you decided I'm going to be perform? 

I saw a few mics in the area, and  a lot of it sucked. So I thought to myself "well if this guy could suck and still go up, then I can too" so once I got over the fear of being awful the rest was just me finding a mic to do and getting on stage.

If you could change one thing about the stand-up comedy world, what would it be? 

The whole commercialization of it all.

What are your goals?

I want to make a living as a stand up, I don't need to be uber famous or nothing. I just want to tell jokes that in 10-20 years people remember. OR make enough money to open my Harry Potter themed wedding chapel in Vegas and call it a day. HA.

What is next for Davon Magwood? 

I am working on my comedy special I'll be filming that on March 14th at the Rex.
writing a web series I hope to shoot soon.
I'm also planning another tour, because I do everything myself. yay me.

Thank you so much for your valuable time to let us into your world more.  I can definitely see big things for your future, but I must warn you I am not psychic.  Here is the event link for the upcoming special that will be will be recorded live at the Rex on Carson St. in the Southside. 

Davon Magwood Live at the Rex 

Joining him on the bill for the event will be:

Susie Meister, Stoph Orlok Edison, Lana Aurora Roskin and Mitch Beardczykowski 



Monday, February 24, 2014

Conversation with Most-Wanted Fine Art Gallery Owners Jason and Nina Sauer

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I catch up with two talented artists, Jason and Nina Sauer, who own Most-Wanted Fine Art Gallery in the Garfield section of Pittsburgh.  I have attended a couple events over the last few months and I believe their impact on the community runs much deeper than just with the arts.  I'd like for you learn more about this power couple and what is coming up next for the gallery.  Sit back and relax...

What are your earliest memories of art growing up?

[Jason] I use to finger paint on brown paper bags on the floor.

[Nina] I spent a lot of time as a child crafting and painting with my grandfather. He was an outsider junk artist of sorts, who built things he wanted since we lived in a very rural isolated area. It wasn't thought of as art or talked of in that way.

Did you grow up in a family where art was being performed or promoted? 

[Jason] Yes, my mother went art school and decorated cakes and encouraged me to make art from the start. I decorated a lot of cakes. She kept a roll of paper across a trunk and I would draw constantly.

[Nina] We made things but it wasn't talked about as art. Once I got to high school and got involved in art classes my parents were supportive of my dreams.

Who are your biggest influences as an artist? 

[Jason] John Chamberlain and Piet Mondrain. Mondrain has a clean sense of style with a great manifesto about art smart subjects. Chamberlain has a guttural response to the art making process.

[Nina] John Hughes, Dolly Parton and Joan Jett. hahaha its funny but true. With Visual artists, its a hard group to pin point one person. My uncle owned a comic/pop culture shop, so movie posters and comics surrounded me and that and those artists always stuck with me. Once I moved to Pittsburgh I would lose myself at the museums just taking in every bit I could. All artists influence me. 

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Did you find any interest in the art classes being offered in your schooling at any point? (Elementary-College)

[Jason] Yes, I spent all my free time in the art classroom. 

[Nina) All of them! So much so i moved 12 hours away and attended the art institute of Pittsburgh.

When did the idea first start to start your own gallery? 

[Jason] After I read Keith herring's history. Because he started his own gallery to sell his artwork instead of chasing art galleries.

[Nina] I had been part of several artist groups in Pittsburgh and organizing events when I met Jason who already had the building. So it was a perfect partnership.

I find it refreshing that you host different events out of your gallery and giving the community an outlet for social and music gatherings.  Where did this idea come from? 

[Jason] From an early age I was taught to give back. I was in the army and that time and service stuck with me. We live a purposeful life.  

[Nina] I agree, both Jason and I grew up in small towns where the "it takes a village to raise a kid" is still alive and well. We both have both always lived community driven lives. Now that we have our own son that idea of the need for a strong connection to where you live and the people that live there is even more important. We love the joy and excitement people have when throwing an event. Being able to be part of special moments in people's lives is a reward. We get to experience something great and help out. It’s a win-win.

 What is next for Most Wanted Art Gallery?

[Jason] We have adopted 12 local artists to be resident artists and we are helping them develop an art dream and a community project. 

[Nina] Yes! We have so much! As Jason mentioned with our resident artists, they all are working on new bodies of work and a community project. We are also opening our own screen print school, Pittsburgh Printing Press. We will be training guys recently released from prison about (we already teach them general contracting) the screen-print industry. We will be making hand printed shirts, books and posters. Plus classes for the public, discount services to community groups and non-profits and small batch printing options.

If you could change anything in the art community in Pittsburgh, what would it be? 

[Nina] this is a hard question. Pittsburgh is very small. People are so busy with the art that they are creating and their lives that it’s hard to gather a large group for things. Where as in a big city there are lots of non-artists who can attend events, or larger arts communities in general. Pittsburgh has amazing events happening every night. So many in fact that everyone is competing for the same small audience who attends events. As more people fill in the city the ability to teamwork to make something fun with no pressure will pass away but that pressure will force some artists to focus and create higher quality art. 

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I will be posting up a calendar of events for Most-Wanted Fine Art going into great detail all the wonderful events and projects coming up for the gallery.  Check back here on my blog, it deserves its own post so nothing is left out.  I thank Jason and Nina so much for taking the time out of their very busy schedules to provide us with this wonderful intimate look into their lives.  It means a lot to me that you gave this an honest effort.  Please contact them at:

Most Wanted Fine Art
5015 Penn Ave
PGH PA 15224

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Conversation with producer Theta

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This month I caught up with talented producer, Theta.  I was introduced to him at Freestyle Friday hosted by Parker Webb.  It was a great opportunity to see Theta in action.  He brought his MPC machine to create beats and do his own “freestylin” as the cyphers and battles were going on.  He was flowing along and changing gears with the different styles of the emcee’s.  I thought it was really amazing because it is so difficult to play beats for a cypher without good equipment and or programs.  This was such a natural flow to the event and thought it served the participants very well.  When playing beats in that kind of format, it’s almost impossible not to disrupt someone as you change the beat and leave them hanging or the next guy up has followed the meter and is ready to time his entrance and that can throw him off.  I am showcasing Theta because I really believe in his ability and would like you guys to learn more about him.  Sit back and relax…

What was the first record, tape or CD that you purchased?
When I was twelve, I saved up some allowance to go and pick up AFI's The Art of Drowning. That was a life changing album for me. The darkness in the production and the clarity of the vocals have me my first taste for my interest in how sound works.

Who are your biggest influences?
When it comes to production it varies so much. Of course, my main inspiration is J. Dilla, who is easily the best beat maker to ever do it in my opinion. MF Doom, 9th Wonder, and Madlib really hold it down on the old school sound for me.

When was the moment you found yourself making music for the first time?
I was a drummer before I was anything, which means I had a house with some really annoyed family members. After hours and hours of practice and failed covers, I finally gave in to attempting to write my first song. It took me longer than it should have and it might not have been a Grammy winner, but I was proud as hell of that beat.

Who are your favorite artists, producers, dj's?
Right now I've gotta say Run the Jewels gets the most plays from me. That album is absolutely nuts from every aspect. As far as producers go, L'Orange and, as always, Jay Dee have been getting a lot of my attention.

What are your upcoming goals?
I just really want to get out there with my MPC and play venues so that I can show people how hard I've been working at this. I'd like to spend a lot of time touring and putting things together wherever I'm able.

If you could change on thing about the music industry, what would it be?
At this point, not a thing. The amount of accessibility that an artist has to his fan base, as well as potential fans, is so deep. There are far too many ways to be getting your music out there to be sitting around, so if you've got the drive, I feel like you can really make it.

Where can we see you next?

Everywhere, hopefully. I've got big plans for the future, and I'm looking forward to things coming to fruition.

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Thank you very much for your time and please contact Theta for booking studio time or live events at: