Echo Chamber: Bluebird Midwest

[Echo Chamber (′ek·ō ′chām·bər): noun, 1. a dedicated space for the purposes of transmission and repetition of sound 2. a video segment that features your favorite bands playing your favorite songs 3. a video segment where your favorite bands blow your mind].

Words by Jim

Artist / Bluebird Midwest
Songs / “Plane Crash at Los Gatos & New Berlin Wall” and “I’ve Always Loved You”
Location / Buena Vista Coffee, Northside, Pittsburgh
Time / February 29, 2012

Roger Harvey is a gentleman and a scholar. Always enthusiastic, always focused, relatable, and trustworthy, Harvey is exactly the type of musician we love working with. He’s excited and so are we. We asked Roger, also known as Bluebird Midwest, to play our first DUL Presents show a few months back. We’ve been fans. We’ve been listening. We know him as a member of White Wives and knew him as Dandelion Snow way back when. I asked him to make a video with us and his excitement and energy in that moment was palpable. “Let’s fucking do it”.

Roger and I talked about a video spot for a while. We loved the idea of the Mexican grocer in the Strip District, but it just didn’t work out. Battle of the schedules. We settled on Buena Vista Coffee in the North Side. We were both familiar and Roger had just started working there recently. We had an in! He worked it out with management and I worked it out with the crew. This was going to be good.

I arrived in the Mexican War Streets shortly before closing. The place was small, but it was packed with people talking, laughing, and moving about. Roger and I discussed the layout as closing progressed. Michael and J came through the door almost at the same time and we began to set up. Customers and neighbors filtered out, but for every person that left, someone else came through the door to say hi. Epitome of neighborhood coffee shop. We shuffled tables about as Roger got ready. Michael played with the lighting and as we started to get comfortable, Brent, one of the owners, put a coat of green paint on a wall. Talk about multitasking. His big, friendly personality bubbled over throughout the place and over all of us. He told us to let him know when to shut up. What a guy. Roger decided to make this special and feature a split cover of two of his most intense and favorite songs – a Woody Guthrie song about deportees and a David Dondero tune in the same vein. Yes. With a final deep breath, Bluebird Midwest began.

So intense. I listened to the mix sitting next to J, happy with how the room was sounding and feeling. Roger offered us each a shot of whiskey and we gratefully accepted. We talked shop and laughed at funny stories from Brent as he feverishly tried to close his business down as we were in the way. Michael messed with more lightning and we moved on. Brendan showed up with his bicycle and beard and took a seat in the corner. Roger ran through another song as I sat back and listened to his shaking voice drift through the espresso laced air. After his second song, he and I talked about his third and I recommended “I’ve Always Loved You” based on the sheer fact that I love that song. Another video had already been made of it, but the song is so good we had to try it. I remember standing at the Brillobox listening to him belt out this very song with long red shadows laying across the floor and an echo effect on his vocals. Amazing. He agreed it would be worth a shot and didn’t hesitate any longer.

He didn’t disappoint, that’s for sure. That song just has it. That “it” that grabs you by the chest, opens it up, and pulls “it” out. Only a few takes of that one and we were finished. We did a celebratory shot of whiskey (number 3 I think) and started to pack our things up. Brendan and I moved tables back as J coiled up his cables. Michael delicately pulled down the lamp he had slung over the track lighting. We re-arranged papers and coffee cups, making sure we didn’t forget to put anything back. Final goodbyes may have consisted of heavy handshakes and a final shot of whiskey. Michael offered to take Roger back to Lawrenceville so he didn’t have to bring his guitar on the bus. As we emerged into the night air of the Mexican War Streets, Brent pulled up with tomorrow’s groceries, just in time for a final goodbye, thank you, and good luck.

What a random and fun night. We’re always down for whiskey shots. Huge thanks to Brent and Shallary, the owners of the wonderful Buena Vista Coffee. Do yourself a favor and stop down to the Mexican War Streets and enjoy some coffee or lunch – you won’t be disappointed. Rock on.


One Response to “Echo Chamber: Bluebird Midwest”

  1. This is excellent. Fabulous job Roger, and the gang that made this happen, my favorite boys at DUL.

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