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WYEP's Summer Music Festival features artists from around the world and around the corner

WYEP Summer Music Festival at Schenley Plaza 2023
Renee Rosensteel
WYEP's 2023 Summer Music Festival.

WYEP's Summer Music Festival returns to Schenley Plaza for its 25th year on Saturday, June 29. The headliner band Middle Kids hails from Sydney, Australia and Ames Harding & the Mirage developed their craft playing abandoned lots, backyards and basements all over Pittsburgh.

WYEP host Rosemary Welsh has been with the station since she started as a volunteer in 1981. She spoke to WESA's Priyanka Tewari on Morning Edition.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Priyanka Tewari: I understand that this year's WYEP Summer Music Festival is also a celebration of WYEP's 50th anniversary. What's going on here? Double trouble?

Rosemary Welsch: There were lots of stations that were created in the 1970s that were supposed to be community access. Most of them are gone. We survived because we've adapted, we've evolved, and that is because the community wanted it. So what we want to do is give back to the community. So we gather together in honor of music. And it's a beautiful setting in Oakland, and we have free music for the whole family.

The festival is actually held in the vicinity of the original station location, right?

When I stand on stage, looking out on Schenley Plaza, I'm looking at the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning. The transmitter used to be on top of that building many years ago. And the [radio station's] original building, which was a basement, was actually a stable at one time. It's just a few blocks away. So it's a homecoming.

WYEP host Rosemary Welsch
WYEP host Rosemary Welsch

What can we expect at the festival this year?

It's international and yet it also has a very important Pittsburgh base. The headliner is a trio led by a woman named Hannah Joy. They are called Middle Kids. They're from Sydney, Australia. Their last album won the [Australian] equivalent of a Grammy Award for best rock album of the year. They are smart, they are melodic, and I think a lot of people will be introduced to something really special.

What Pittsburgh bands can we expect to see?

There's a young woman named Mani Bahia, who is also a DJ and a producer. We have a wonderful band, Chariot Fade, who harken back to classic soul, and put their own Pittsburgh mix on that. And Ames Harding is also going to be there from Ames Harding and the Mirage. This is a guy who was born in Guatemala. He's lived in Egypt and in India. He came here from Chile. So his music has influences from all around the world.

Are there any other acts that you're excited about that will be at the festival?

I love the band Oh He Dead. They're from [Washington] D.C. They're led by this very charismatic young woman named C.J. Johnson. And they will have you up and dancing. And there is also Jade Bird, a young woman from the [United Kingdom] who can make a lot of noise with just herself and her guitar.

WYEP's Summer Music Festival takes place Saturday, June 29 at Schenley Plaza. The free, family-friendly event kicks off at 3 p.m. BikePGH will provide free bike valet service.

The audio for this interview was produced by WESA's Susan Scott Peterson.

Priyanka Tewari is a native of New Delhi, India. She moved to the United States with her family in the late 1990s, after living in Russia and the United Kingdom. She is a graduate of Cornell University with a master’s from Hunter College, CUNY.
Susan Scott Peterson is an audio producer and writer whose journalism, radio and literary work have appeared with Vox Media, New Hampshire Public Radio, Allegheny Front, The Texas Observer and The Rumpus.
Rosemary Welsch has been the Afternoon Host, Program Director, and Senior Producer for 91.3 WYEP. Welsch is the longest-tenured employee at WYEP, having just celebrated her 30th anniversary as a full-time employee. She began as a volunteer D.J. during the station’s salad years in 1981.