The Deutschtown Music Festival Interview
A neighborhood within a neighborhood, the North Side’s Deutschtown area is rich with history and culture. It was developed during the late nineteenth century by immigrants who were exclusively German and was often mispronounced as “Dutchtown”. Spanning from Cedar Street to Troy Hill, the heart of Deutschtown is the East Ohio Street business district, whose assortment of restaurants, bars and mom and pops keep the street bustling with activity from sunrise to 2AM. Resident Cody Walters and an assortment of volunteers have recently come together to execute the Deutschtown Music Festival, the first of its kind in the area, to celebrate the music scene that has blossomed within the past few years. We reached out to Cody to ask him a few questions about the festival and what it’s like organizing an event that relies 100% on volunteers – from the organizers/execution to the acts.
Kymbo Slice: In the press release for DMF, you are quoted and elude to an “up-and-coming music scene” in Deutschtown. Can you tell us more about that? What types of bands are involved and where do these events take place?
Cody Walters: We have a number of places that already have live music. The Park House has live bands every Friday, a bluegrass jam every Wednesday and occasionally DJs on Thursday and another live show on Saturdays. James St Gastropub has open mic night on Tuesdays, and jazz every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in their basement (the Speakeasy), as well as the occasional show in their upstairs ballroom. And the Allegheny Elks Club opens up to the public every Wednesday for Banjo night featuring the Pittsburgh Banjo Club.
With these things already in place, my goal is to encourage other venues to start having live music. It would be great to have a neighborhood with live music every night of the week. With that goal we have already had some success as Max’s Allegheny Tavern and Verdetto’s, who have both expressed an interest in having future shows.
KS: Have local businesses been cooperative/welcoming throughout the planning process?
CW: Absolutely, everyone we have encountered has been very excited about the festival. Legends of the Northshore, though not directly involved, has decided to set up a BBQ on Foreland so they can participate. The Javor Club(the Croatian club) and Verdetto’s were unable to host due to scheduling conflicts, but both are looking toward the future and have already said they want to be involved next year.
KS: So you plan to make this a yearly event?
CW: Indeed! We want this to be an event that continues to grow. We have the capacity to become a very large event and still be within a one-mile radius of Deutschtown.
KS: Was it difficult to get all the bands to play for free? How did you manage to pull this off as a free event?
CW: Honestly the bands have been so amazing throughout this entire process. Everyone understands this benefits us all in many ways and money is just not an issue this year. We’ve had amazing volunteers and great donors, both individual and business/non-profit. We also raised funds through a fundraising show. We plan to do a couple of these throughout the year to prepare for next year.
KS: What is your favorite thing about being a resident of Deutschtown?
CW: Thats tough… I could say our walkability to downtown or the stadiums. I could say our beautiful, historic homes. I could mention our amazing park and on and on…. But to be completely honest, for me, the best thing about living in Deutschtown is my neighbors. We have a wonderfully diverse group of people living here and we all despite different backgrounds or lifestyles or income come together to look out for one another.
Check out the Deutschtown Music Festival this Saturday, July 6 for a fun-filled day of live music from some great Pittsburgh bands. This free event runs from 2PM-2AM at various Deutschtown locations including Bistro to Go, The Elks Club, James Street Balroom, Max’s Allegheny Tavern, Stedeford’s Records, AIR, Key West, Peanuts, James Street Speakeasy, and an outdoor stage on Foreland & Middle Streets. Visit our event page to learn more about participating bands and preview their music.