David Ferrard Visits Regent Square’s Map Room

Ferrard’s performance at The Map Room tonight will be something of a belated homecoming—so don’t be surprised if a little bit of Pittsburgh bleeds into Ferrard’s award-winning, evocative compositions.

As I write this, it’s an unofficial holiday for devoted fans of Lady Gaga (myself included).

“Born This Way” arrived earlier this week, and as I was ripping open the packaging in the Waterfront Best Buy parking lot, I reflected on Gaga’s first Pittsburgh performance, a sold-out show at the CONSOL Energy Center in September.

Between sets, Gaga eagerly mentioned her Pittsburgh ties—her grandparents are from the near side of West Virginia, and they used to take her to Pittsburgh when she would come and visit. Even Lady Gaga, a purebred New Yorker who had barely ventured outside Manhattan before she began touring the world, has a very real Pittsburgh connection.

It seems that you can’t escape those local bonds, no matter how far you travel. For example, you’d certainly expect very little of the ‘Burgh in David Ferrard, a Scottish folk singer touring the United States for the first time who grew up in Edinburgh and, briefly, lived in Turkey. Nevertheless, Ferrard’s performance at The Map Room tonight will be something of a belated homecoming—his mother is a western Pennsylvania native who grew up about 30 miles northeast of the city. So don’t be surprised if a little bit of Pittsburgh bleeds into Ferrard’s award-winning, evocative compositions.

Equally rooted in American and Scottish folk traditions, fans of the native sounds of the British Isles—or the American South, for that matter—will easily attach to Ferrard. One can hear hints of Dixie in his ballads, just as easily as notes of Dublin and Edinburgh float in. It’s a natural combination, and one that Ferrard has blended to perfection.

His albums—four now—have alternated between original compositions and traditional or contemporary folk recordings by a wide range of artists. The original stuff has often been compared to the 60’s protest singers that Ferrard cites as a strong influence.

And there are few more ideal places to host the young songwriter’s first Pittsburgh appearance than Regent Square’s Map Room. Anyone with that much geography under their belt belongs at a bar like this, a place that proudly bills itself as “part corner bar, part traveler’s tavern.” This place could be located squarely in the middle of just about any city in the world, and it would be one of the best bars anywhere. Fortunately, we have it all to ourselves. Those unfamiliar with The Map Room would be well-advised to arrive in advance of Ferrard’s performance for some of the great (and surprisingly affordable) food, and a sip of their favorite drink, courtesy of the great liquor selection here. Stick to the appropriate thing, though, and get a Scotch.

The amazing thing about all this is that Ferrard, in spite of his acclaimed work and obvious expertise, is playing for free. No cover at The Map Room for this one, although donations are suggested (and well-deserved).

If you turn out on Thursday for David Ferrard’s something-of-a-homecoming, you’ll be transported around the world—hints of Scotland, bits of Georgia, a quick taste of Turkey, and everywhere else this journeyman has traveled. But—just like with Lady Gaga—you’ll find a little bit of home, too.
 
1126 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square. Thurs., May 26, 8:30 p.m. Free (donations suggested). Info: 412/371-1955.

Categories: After Dark