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A New Initiative Is Bringing More Live Music To Downtown Venues

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NOLA in Market Square is one of the venues downtown that will expand its live music offerings.

The opportunities for playing – and hearing – live music Downtown are expanding.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation announced Wednesday that nine venues will add music or expand existing offerings.

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Credit Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA
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Independent booking agent Kevin Saftner works with the Music City Downtown initiative.

The announcement is part of the CDC’s ongoing Music City Downtown initiative, meant to improve experiences for residents and visitors alike, said the group's executive director, John Valentine.

“One of the things we hear the most is there’s not too many places to listen to good music,” said Valentine. “So we want to make sure that we offer people all types of venues. We believe that working with Visit Pittsburgh will add more conventions to town, more vibrancy.”

Venues growing their existing offerings include the Backstage Bar and the August Wilson Center.

New venues include the Market Street Grocery, which is adding a second-floor lounge, and the wine cellar at Vallozzi’s restaurant.

Other venues include the Speakeasy at NOLA on the Square and Molinaro Ristorante & Bar.

Valentine says the music will include multiple genres.

“We want to have a wide variety, so right now we’re talking about acoustic music, blues music, bluegrass, jazz, but eventually I see us adding rap, hip hop, electronic music, things like that,” he said.

Valentine said that Kevin Saftner, an independent booking agent who formerly co-owned the now-shuttered James Street Tavern, will provide help booking talent for venues that desire it.

He said the first bookings could come as soon as February.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: bodriscoll@wesa.fm
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