Work.

The more recent videos set in Pittsburgh tend to take the rose-colored path through the city.  The incline. The skyline. The pristine beauty of those places we like to hold up to the world and say, “Look at what we have here.” Phipps. Warhol. Fountain. Bridge.

But regardless of how more beautiful and pristine the city of Pittsburgh is becoming each year, a far cry from what we were in the 70s and 80s, there’s still that element that we shouldn’t forget — the hard-working, gritty, blue-collar, roll up your sleeves and carve out a living aspect of Pittsburgh.

It might not be the cleanest, the prettiest, the high-classiest, but it is what made Pittsburgh what it is, and that’s why I love the new video from 1,2,3, a duo of Pittsburgh guys Nic Snyder and Josh Sickels.

Watch this, Pittsburgh. Love it for who we are way deep down:

YouTube Preview Image

I emailed the guys’ manager to see if I could ask them five questions for my Pittsburgh Magazine series, and they haven’t gotten back to me.

If they do, I’ll be sure to ask them all about filming this video, future plans, and more.

(h/t Jenny)





37 Comments

  1. Brittania
    June 6, 2011 9:50 am

    Amazing video! I went to high school with Josh Sickels and my brother was really good friends with him. So glad to see he is showcasing what makes Pittsburgh great!



  2. Richmond K. Turner
    June 6, 2011 10:03 am

    Despite the refrain screaming “I work! I work!” over and over again, these two guys don’t ever seem to do any of it. They walk around on job sites with these pristine hard hats, play around by jumping in puddles, take some target practice with some rocks, go bowling, and spend some time in an arcade. Where’s the “work”? We see other people working, but these guys? Not so much.



  3. Dana
    June 6, 2011 10:10 am

    Awesome video. I know I fell in love with Pittsburgh sometime within the past four years because even the dirty parts are beautiful to me.



  4. facie
    June 6, 2011 10:11 am

    Very cool video. Except for the “FIRED” part at the end. A little too gritty for me.



  5. Jenny
    June 6, 2011 10:15 am

    I totally agree with Dana. Even the “unpretty” parts are charming to me.



  6. bucdaddy
    June 6, 2011 10:23 am

    Speaking of swimming pools, that’s a nasty looking one at :49. I think I saw the creature from the black lagoon in there …

    Otherwise, pretty cool video. We probably forget that from some angles we look a lot like Detroit.

    I hope there will be a post about your craft beer experience. I predict you’ll never long for a Zima again.



  7. unsatisfied
    June 6, 2011 10:32 am

    @richmond……the work that these 2 dudes did was THE FUCKING SONG.



  8. AngryMongo
    June 6, 2011 10:35 am

    Pittsburgh’s revival is a direct reflection of what it was like for us 30-40 somethings growing up. Our parents and grandparents did not have much and had to work hard to raise a family.

    After 30 years of working, the fruits of their labor is evident. My parents managed to put three kids through college, without student loans or financial aid on a single income family. And neither of them had a college education. They worked. They worked hard and were patient. “Someday, our children will be able to enjoy the things we never had because we worked hard.”

    Let’s hope we don’t screw it up for the next gen.



  9. inBrookline
    June 6, 2011 11:06 am

    Very talented band. I caught their set at the SXSW festival in Austin this year. It’s exciting to see Pittsburgh artists get recognized beyond Western PA.



  10. bucdaddy
    June 6, 2011 11:14 am

    unsatisfied,

    Is writing and recording music really “work”? I am in no way dissing artists and other creative people, but I often read about musicians and actors and the like who claim they “worked really, really hard to get where I am” and I wonder if a coal miner or construction worker or a soldier or a waiter can even begin to wrap his brain around that. As somebody said, there’s a reason they call it “play guitar” and not “work guitar.”

    And just for the record, I make a living sitting in front of computer screens and doing some typing and stuff, and I do some creative thinking, in a comfortable air-conditioned office, so while I have a “job” I can never tell people I “work hard.”

    This is one of my innumerable peeves, but a comparatively mild one.



  11. Suz
    June 6, 2011 11:56 am

    Yup, that’s pretty much us.



  12. spoon
    June 6, 2011 12:14 pm

    @bucdaddy why does “work” have to be physical labor? Mentally what a lot of us have to do is very exhausting. Stess levels of some desk jobs are sometimes higher than physical ones. Both types of jobs require sacrifice to be successful. Yeah I have a desk job but that doesn’t mean it isn’t exhausting



  13. empirechick
    June 6, 2011 12:21 pm

    Right on @spoon. Comparing physical labor to mental labor is apples and oranges. I can’t swing a sledgehammer like my dad did, but he can’t compile financial statements either.



  14. unsatisfied
    June 6, 2011 1:01 pm

    @bucdaddy…as someone with innumerable pet peeves, I can commiserate.

    however, I’ll let the answers from spoonie and empirechick do the “work” for me. ;-)



  15. Steve
    June 6, 2011 1:56 pm

    I think that the way that Ginny setup the video made me expect a montage dedicated entirely towards the people in the city and not the artists who created the great video. I have to admit that I was a little confused by the seeing them with pristine hard hats and goofing around. Once I understood who I was watching in the video, it made more sense.

    I don’t think they intended any disrespect, In fact I think they have a profound respect for the working people of the city, and count themselves among their number. Just a little confusing.



  16. spoon
    June 6, 2011 3:01 pm

    @bucdaddy @empirechick @unsatisfied I work hard fo da money so yo betta treat me right, n’at!

    Donna Summer would have made a great yinzer.



  17. Sis
    June 6, 2011 4:08 pm

    Yeah 1,2,3!! They have a CD release show on July 1 in Bloomfield. Like them on Facebook for more details.



  18. Josh
    June 6, 2011 4:30 pm

    @Richmond – Irony: The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

    @Bucdaddy – You’re right. Going on the road for weeks at a time, driving 6-8 hours to show, eating gas station food, sharing small beds/sleepy in seedy hotels with other people, being away from home, lugging gear in the club, setting it up, playing, then tearing it down, and loading it back in, just to drive to the next city and do it all over again.. that’s not work.

    neither is practicing multiple times a week, for hours at a time, trying to fine tune your craft. racking your brain to mental exhaustion.. that’s not work.

    then you have recording, where you do 12 hour days, where the MOST mental stress takes place, and again, if you go away from home, you’re not sleeping in your own bed for more than a month at a time, away from your loved ones, holed up in a studio, trying to squeeze every last creative juice from your brain, day after day, only to hope that when its finished, people will like it… nah, that’s not work either.

    man, the life of a fledgling rock n’ roll band is a breeze!



  19. cmd_45
    June 6, 2011 7:03 pm

    The panoramics at the beginning were incredible, particularly the shot of PNC park and the Fort Pitt Bridge.



  20. Butcher's Dog
    June 6, 2011 7:27 pm

    empirechick said it best: it’s apples and oranges. So why are we beating up bucdaddy? Work is work, whether it’s physical or mental. Most of you wouldn’t want to grade all the papers an English teacher has to grade, then fend off all the helicopter parents once they were returned. At the end of the day we all earn what we get or we don’t get it very long. Just sayin’.



  21. bucdaddy
    June 6, 2011 10:01 pm

    Josh,

    I’m hearing Drive-By Truckers’ “Hell No, I Ain’t Happy” playing in my head as I read that.

    On the other hand, unless you have a record deal that pays you something up front so that you have to stay on the road for months at a time or turn in an album on a deadline to pay it back, no one is forcing the musician to go through that, right? Your choice, your rock and roll dream. (Even though Patterson Hood says, “People who do this right do it because they ain’t got no fuckin’ choice.”)

    I guess technically no one is forcing the coal miner underground either, but … for everything else you have to put up with in your rock and roll “job,” you get to take a stage for an hour or two every night and enjoy the hell out of yourself, and good for you.

    What’s the equivalent of that for the coal miner? Last time I checked, it’s been a long time since 29 guitarists died in a club explosion.

    Again, I’m not dissing creative people. I love the hell out of a few bands down here and see them every chance I get. But I really, really don’t want to hear musicians and actors and authors etc. tell me what “hard work” is. (I would personally wish to punch in the mouth the next author — and he or she would be the 1,000,000th — to tell me what a drag the book tour is.)



  22. Josh
    June 6, 2011 11:27 pm

    It doesnt have to be one or the other, so not only are you acting dramatic, you’re being ignorant and nearly offensive.

    Because more guitarists dont die, they dont work hard… great logic, dude.

    I think you need to look up what the word “fledgling” means, because there is no glamour, sex and drugs to go with the rock n’ roll.. and by the time (if) you see it, your HARD WORK has paid off.

    My girlfriend works with autistic children, many who have terrible behavior problems, but by your definition, because she doesnt break her back, or die somewhere in a cave, she isn’t working hard. Again, impeccable logic.

    Good day, sir.



  23. mom22
    June 6, 2011 11:59 pm

    My husband works construction and I can say that the man in the video was likely fired because construction workers do not wear skinny rocker jeans. Great video otherwise!



  24. Sooska
    June 7, 2011 7:55 am

    So, the National Record Mart sign is still up?

    Why the hostility toward the artists? It is an obscure local music video and as far as I can tell it isn’t claiming to be anything other than that.



  25. Kelli
    June 7, 2011 9:19 am

    Bucdaddy, I might not be surprised to hear that attitude towards musicians, but I am downright shocked it came from you.

    It is funny – but you invoked two things I was going to bring up, in support of my own point.

    And one was, I dare you to look Patterson Hood in the eye and say that. Sure, the part of the job that is “just playing guitar” might be fun. But you and I both know that isn’t all there is to it. And plenty of the songs on your favorite albums say just that.

    Yeah, I was going to also bring up “Hell No I Ain’t Happy”.

    Anyway, I think there a quite a few jobs that have something as good and fun as getting to play guitar. And they also have parts that suck.

    And to me, maybe the hardest part for touring musicians & their familis is that most jobs don’t make you live them. A touring, recording musician – along with his/her whole family – has to live that job. Think about how often that comes up in DBT songs, both as a major theme or a minor aside.

    Just so surprised to hear this from you, Bucdaddy.



  26. Kelli
    June 7, 2011 9:32 am

    And I didn’t mean to imply that was the only job that made you live them – I grew up with a father that had that kind of job and now both of my brothers have the kind of job where you either have no family or your family lives it with you. Not touring musicians, but similar in the way it affects families.



  27. bucdaddy
    June 7, 2011 10:44 am

    I’m not being “hostile” toward musicians or any creative people, sooska. (And BTW, I was surprised to see that sign too.) I think I made it pretty clear that I appreciate their talents. Well, maybe not the Gaga-wannabe in the Walmart so much … I don’t know the guys in the video. Their song is OK, the video is pretty good, the tribute to blue-collar working people is good to see.

    I got a little miffed, though, at this statement by unsatisifed up there:

    @richmond……the work that these 2 dudes did was THE FUCKING SONG.

    Maybe I’m drawing too fine a distinction and maybe Josh is right, “It doesn’t have to be the one or the other,” but I already said it’s a peeve of mine to hear musicians, authors, actors etc. proclaim or grouse about how “hard” they work. (And granted, the guys in the video and no one here has said that, I’m kind of generalizing). If Virginia wrote a post one day about how much “work” blogging is, or if she ever landed a book deal and had to do a book tour and wrote about how “hard” it is to fly from town to town and stay in nice hotels and stuff, I’d call her on that, very roughly.

    I really don’t think, in this day and age (get off my lawn!) that most of us (myself included) have a very good conception of what “hard” work really is, and I wouldn’t insult people who have jobs that truly are physically and mentally demanding by claiming I work “hard.”

    I know, I know, it’s just a word, I’m taking it too seriously, but hey, that’s what I do. It’s my job and I work hard at it.

    (Ooops.)

    Kelli,

    Last time DBTs passed through the area, they played my town, and I did up an advance story for the local paper (where I have a job that I won’t dignify by calling it “work”). I had a chance to ask Hood some questions (via email) and made a point of asking about that song. I asked him, “So, are you happy now?”

    His answer was yes, things were going pretty well, he was fairly happy, but that he found “Hell No” was resonating a lot with audiences these days. They played it here.

    Just an aside.

    I dunno … You’re right that there are a thousand songs about how tough life on tour is (“Turn the Page” immediately jumped to mind), and I realize there’s some effort involved in driving hundreds of miles from place to place, hauling your gear in and setting up and tearing down and hauling it out, playing for five people, all that stuff. I know all that.

    (“Traveling Band” just came to mind too.)

    But I can’t help thinking that’s all a bit overdramatized, sometimes, because if the worst thing that happens is someone asks behind your back, “Is that a woman or a man?” or that you’re “riding 16 hours and there’s nothing much to do,” as Bob Seger put it (what, he didn’t have an iPhone in 1979?), well, really, that doesn’t sound to me like risking your life every day going into a hole, or going out on patrol, or having to do police work in bad neighborhoods, or …

    Does it?

    Maybe I’ll conduct a little experiment. I personally know a handful of musicians (bucdaughter included), and maybe I’ll ask them if they consider what they do in their musical lives to be “hard work” or “work” or “Man, just being able to play in front of people is living the DREAM, man!” and see what they say.



  28. Josh
    June 7, 2011 11:52 am

    Your problem is that you keep trying to compare mentally hard work, to physically hard work. Who’s to say one is better/worse than the other? Is it harder physically to throw bales of hay onto a truck for 8 hours a day, than punch codes at a nuclear power plant? Of course. Do you need anywhere near the mental sharpness, fortitude and intelligence level to do it? Of course not. You can make the flipside argument that those are mindless jobs that anyone with working arms and legs can do… not everyone can be a doctor, lawyer, etc…

    I think this whole argument just needs dropped.



  29. bucdaddy
    June 7, 2011 12:18 pm

    Ok with me, Josh. I was just riffing anyway.

    I will add this for Kelli, though, if she hasn’t lost ALL hope with me yet. This will probably bore the rest of you to tears so feel free to ignore it.

    When I was in communication with Hood (through a publicist/intermediary), I tried to open a second avenue in hopes of maybe getting another story out of it. He has described the band as a “mom and pop” operation and once wrote on the band’s web site about someone who had stolen one of their backdrops, saying, basically, “That thing costs us money and you’re taking it out of my family’s pocket.” Don’t think he went so far as to say “food off the table,” but the same general idea.

    I thought, wow, are these guys really living that close to the margins? Seriously? Or is that being perhaps overdone a little to keep a connection with the band’s blue-collar fan base?

    So I came up with the notion of perhaps writing about the financial aspects of being a touring band, the actual business of it (I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such a story), and thought they would be a good subject for it. In general terms, I mean, I sure didn’t think anyone was going to show me tax returns, but you never know without asking.

    Long story short, the publicist cut off that avenue of questioning and insisted I stick to the current tour and the coming show. I did get to slip in a few questions about touring/business life (“Who does your laundry?” “I do.” … “Are you incorporated?” “Yes.”) but any further attempts to follow up and delve a little more into that line weren’t permitted. (Not faulting the publicist, BTW, she was just doing her job.)

    So I WAS interested in seeing just how hard a life that is, but that went nowhere.

    Just something I thought you might find interesting.



  30. Kelli
    June 7, 2011 12:50 pm

    Bucdaddy,

    I haven’t lost all hope – just trying to get my “work” done before I continued ;)

    I have to say, I’m really not surprised that he answered the way he did on the question based on “Hell No” – I feel like the last line of the chorus was proof he still had hope that he would be happy someday. Or that he at least valued the little bit of happy he did find at that time in his life.

    And I think that ties into the question you asked in your second to last comment – I really think that it is a little bit of both “hard work” and “living the DREAM” – do any of us have jobs that are all-or-nothing good – or bad? All of the moments of hard work add up to the special moments of living out the dream – just most people are living out a different dream. They might not see it as living the dream, but they still likely value the positive aspects.

    Of course, there is that dream part to being a musician – or people wouldn’t do it for “fun”, playing after work, at local bars. But those are the musicians that I am most familiar with and I see a lot of hard work that goes into even that.

    I think your line of questioning about the business end is interesting, but I’m not surprised that you weren’t allowed to go there. I doubt that it was because they are all secretly making bank or something (maybe I’m naïve), but it is such a personal topic. But I don’t think it is unusual to wonder how that works and it probably would make a fascinating story.

    In a more off-topic question – are the DBT hitting your town on this leg of the tour? Not hitting here, but I’ll be catching the last two nights of this leg in another town. Last year, they were here, but I chose to skip it and see them in the same place I’m seeing them this year.



  31. Jim
    June 7, 2011 4:02 pm

    The footage from about 0:42 to 1:20 is pretty much all Braddock, PA. Part of the ‘burgh metroplex, but let’s give Braddock the credit (if you can call it that) it deserves. I spent 5 long years working in the big sooty blue building towering over everything else. It’s the Basic Oxygen Furnace in the ET Works of US Steel.



  32. bucdaddy
    June 8, 2011 1:15 am

    Kelli,

    Asheville or Athens?

    I have kin in Asheville and have threatened to come visit them some day, with any luck when DBTs are at the Orange Peel …

    I don’t see where I can catch this tour, unfortunately, unless they slip in a gig at Small’s or something.

    I was thinking about “Hell No” a little more, and what I thought was that if you’re trying to persuade me that life on tour sucks, you really shouldn’t write “There’s a pretty little girl outside the van window” or “Seen the mountains of Montana at seven a.m.” because, really, that doesn’t sound all that bad.

    Besides, he sure looks like he’s enjoying the hell out of himself the two hours he’s on stage. You ask me, would I rather “work” as Patterson Hood for two hours, playing rock and roll and swilling Jack Daniel’s, or work as a deep miner for two hours, well … I rest me case.



  33. Kelli
    June 8, 2011 9:13 am

    Asheville. We skipped Smalls last year and did both nights in Asheville. We were actually supposed to do the two nights in Lexington, but the s/o had something come up – was a source of much arguing. But turned out to be a great time in Asheville. Such a good time that we decided to go again this year. The s/o carried his taping gear last year, but ended up not taping – he swears he plans to do better this year.

    This would be much funnier if you knew how close I live to Smalls.

    And I’m not arguing that there wouldn’t be times that were fun and in particular, the two hours you are talking about would be the best. But I’m just arguing that it isn’t all fun, there is some work to it. All jobs have tradeoffs, there are crappy parts – the parts that make them work – about all of them. Maybe for some it isn’t being on the road, maybe it is dealing with the business end of the business (and I have friends who have gone through the wringer on that – that is work.)

    And those lines might make it sound lots of fun to you, but I think about the rest of that, how miserable “six crammed in, ain’t never alone; ain’t homesick, ain’t got no home” sounds.



  34. bucdaddy
    June 8, 2011 9:49 am

    Two nights in Asheville.

    *burns with the fires of 1,000 jealousies*

    Clearly we must meet at Small’s sometime.



  35. Kelli
    June 8, 2011 10:34 am

    I’ve been a lurker/commenter for years, though I think I used to use a different name. But anyway, I was supposed to try to find you at the Homestead show years ago. Turned out we were in the balcony and I couldn’t really get down to the floor well. Doesn’t help that was one of the weirdest shows I’d ever been too. Had a weird moment in the will-call line, then a super friendly, but sort of over-zealous usher.

    Anyway, if they do a show at Smalls, we’ll have to make plans to meet.



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  37. SteelCityMagnolia
    September 12, 2011 1:06 pm

    I am totally showing my age here, but when I hear “The Work Song”, I think of Corbin-Hanner.

    Miss those guys!!!