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No Earbuds, No Problem. Local Bands Provide Soundtrack For The Pittsburgh Marathon

John Marino

Most of the people running the Pittsburgh Marathon this weekend don’t know who Jimi Miller is. But for some, he provides a much-needed boost of energy along the route.

“We only see them for a few minutes,” he said. “Most of the time they don’t even know who we are, they never get to know who we are. But you know what, if we can (give) them pleasure for just a couple of minutes, then we did well.”

Miller is a member of The Sidewinder Band. It’s one of 60 bands expected to perform for marathon runners this weekend.

Patrice Matamoros, the CEO of the Pittsburgh Marathon, said in the last eight years the number of sideline bands has grown from just more than a dozen. With so many participating now, she said the marathon is almost like a music festival.

“They’re all local bands, and they’re all volunteers which is fantastic,” she said. “And they come out and they do – some are cover bands, some have original music, but really they’re just there to keep runners motivated.”

Miller’s band has played for marathon runners since 2000. Each year the members begin their day at 4 or 5 a.m., so that they can set up their equipment before the streets are shut down for the race at 7 a.m. This year, the Sidewinder Band will be back in its regular Strip District spot, at 24th Street and Penn Avenue.

Miller said he likes volunteering to help runners take their minds off the race – and how many miles they may still have to go.

“It’s kind of cool whenever they go by and they hear the music and they’re pumping their fists in the air and some of them clap,” he said. 

More than 35,000 people are expected to participate in the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016.