Music with a cause: ‘Concert for Anna 2’
Anytime he needs to brighten his mood, Josh Anxt just looks at the photo on his refrigerator.
There, the vocalist for the band Serious Grind finds a snapshot of himself and his long-time friend, the late Anna Piroch of West Deer, sitting together.
“I knew Anna since I was in seventh grade. She was always smiling and giggling around me, just fun to be around,” he recalls. “I can still look at it and remember someone who always made me smile.”
Anxt, a West Deer native now living in Oakmont, will be among the musicians this weekend who will be trying to spread that joy to others who can use a little pick me up in their lives.
They’ll be taking part in “Concert for Anna 2” on Saturday and Sunday at the Praha Hotel in Tarentum.
The goal of the event, featuring four rock bands each night, is to raise money for children’s charities, including Rock for Life, the Alle-Kiski Valley not-for-profit that helps families facing serious medical and other challenges with their bills.
Admission is $5 each night. A 50-50 raffle also will be held and commemorative T-shirts will be available.
A year ago, Alle-Kiski bands donated their time to stage “Concert for Anna” at the same location to cover funeral and medical expenses for Piroch, who died Aug. 4, 2008, without life insurance.
“The turnout was fantastic,” says her brother Mike Piroch of New Kensington, a member of the rock band Creep.
“She was a kind-hearted person who was always there for you if you needed someone to talk to or hang out with,” he says. “She was getting her life together, and things were looking up for her.”
Now he hopes to keep his late sister’s loving and giving spirit alive with annual concerts that assist others in need. “I think she would think this is an awesome idea,” Piroch says. “It’s a way to keep her almost alive in my mind.”
An enthusiastic supporter of the Alle-Kiski music scene, Anna Piroch, who was single, was diagnosed with cancer in April of 2008. Her birthday falls two days after the event honoring her memory.
“She was a good person who was taken away far too early from us,” says Anxt, who was in her graduating class at Deer Lakes High School. “If we can help stop someone else from losing a loved one, or help someone in need of something, we will be there every time we are asked.”
Mike Piroch says that is a common sentiment among musicians, who always seem willing to step forward to aid a good cause. “We feel blessed with what we have. It’s almost an unbelievable superhero type feeling to be able to come, strap on an instrument and help someone,” he says. “Each band almost has an army of fans behind them and they say, ‘If my band believes in this, I will, too.’ ”
Shawn Maudhuit of West Deer, a member of Ferris Bueller’s Revenge, agrees. “If we can help someone by doing what we love to do, the lottery has been won,” he says.
Everyone has been through or likely will experience some type of tragedy in his or her lifetime, he suggests. “Raising money to ease the stress by just a little can make a difference,” he says. “That family in need can be us next year, so don’t ever take anything for granted.”
He promises a “roller coaster ride through the Big ’80s” in his band’s Sunday set.
Matt Ferrante and the members of After The Fall didn’t hesitate in accepting an invitation to perform again this year. “We’re extremely honored to be chosen for the Saturday lineup,” he says. “I cannot imagine losing my little sister the way he did. I do know that she would be proud of this.”
Ferrante, an Apollo native living in Avonmore, and a co-founder of Rock for Life, says the organization is “extremely grateful” for the assistance. “It’s going to be an excellent weekend of live music,” he says.
“It’s a responsibility we all have, to give our best effort in reaching out and helping other people, people we may or may not know,” suggests Chris Booth, singer and guitarist of the Pittsburgh band Mojo Filter.
It was a great experience last year, he says. “I think it’s a great tribute to Anna, to continue helping others in her name,” Booth says.
Concert For Anna 2
When: starting 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (performances continue through 1:30 a.m.)
Saturday’s lineup: Serious Grind, Motorpsychos, After the Fall, Creep
Sunday’s lineup: Here and Now, Ferris Bueller’s Revenge, Mojo Filter, Big House Pete
Where: Praha, 400 Corbet St., Tarentum
Admission: $5 each night