The Living Street

Courtesy of Eva J. Roberts

Nick Guckert, left, and Edward J. Angelo are the Living Street.

As teenagers in a rock band, Nick Guckert and Edward J. Angelo often would perform as part of the opening act for out-of-town artists.

“They weren’t any of these huge bands, but they were able to jump in a van and drive to another city and play these cool shows,” Guckert said. “We were enthralled by that and just really, really wanted to do it, too. So we made it our plan to do that. But what do you do?”

Answers came from music veteran Steven Foxbury, who owns Yellow Couch Studio, which he started 16 years ago in his Mt. Lebanon basement, and also manages numerous acts.

The Living Street 2011

Edward and Nick, 2011

“He saw us at an open mic night and wanted to chat with us, and he’s just an amazing, genuine guy who knows a whole lot about what to do,” Guckert said. “He gave us a lot of important, valuable tools.”

So launched the touring career of the Living Street, the duo of Mt. Washington residents and roommates, Guckert on guitar and Angelo on bass. Last year, they released their first album, simply titled “The Living Street.”

The release show for the follow-up, “It Won’t Last,” is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 30 at Club Café, 56-58 S. 12th St., Pittsburgh’s South Side. Those who attend will receive a free CD containing, as with the debut, all original compositions.

“For the most part, the songs on this album were written either while we were on tour or right after we were on tour,” Guckert said. “We went through a lot. We slept on couches. We met weird people. We had some strange encounters and really got to add a lot more depth to our lives.”

The opening track, in fact, is called “Home On the Road,” setting the tone with a wistful story of “spending every night in new sheets” and meeting a girl whom the singer tells, “I hope we meet again before next year.”

“It Won’t Last” unfolds with a series of songs featuring crystal-clear production that allows the instrumental backing to shine through while putting the emphasis on the vocal component and, by extension, the lyrics.

While most of the songs are of fairly recent vintage, there’s an exception.

Living Street Boston

The Living Street live in Boston

“One in particular, we wrote about nine years ago,” Guckert said. “We play it all the time live, and our fans said for years, ‘You need to record this song.’ We obliged them, and it ended up being one of our favorite tracks on the album.”

And so they selected the wedding-reception-worthy ballad “Disco Ball” for a strong album closer.

Another standout track is the R&B-flavored “Two Dark Hours,” for which the guys have a good backstory. They had played a gig at the House of Blues Las Vegas and were headed out of town.

“Edward said, ‘Oh, we’ve still got to drive for two hours in the dark.’ It was on a highway where there were no lights on the road, so when it gets dark, it gets really, really dark,” Guckert recalled. “I said, ‘Two dark hours. I like that idea for song.’

So we’re driving in the night and just basically spitting back and forth lyrics to the song, and I’m typing into my phone at the same time.”

They put all of that to music during a stop in Memphis, Tenn.

“The chorus came together, and it’s actually a crowd favorite,” Guckert said. “It kind of has a different tone and vibe than any of the other songs on the album, but in a really fun way.”

He and Angelo, both 25, grew up near one another in Lower Burrell.

“We knew each other, didn’t become friends until we were both in sports together. We played football together. That’s not how you usually see musicians get together, but not a lot of people played music in our school district or in our class,” Guckert recalled. “When we found out we both played guitar, we set up a jam session.”

They subsequently joined with some classmates to form a band called My Friday Slacks – “Your fancy pants for the weekend” – that remained together for about a decade.

“Everybody was really talented in the band, but it was a matter of difference of musical direction and opinion, and what everybody wanted from it,” Guckert said. “Edward and I really wanted to make this a career. We wanted to tour, and we wanted to play more of this folk-kind-of-pop music, and not so much rock ’n’ roll and playing a lot of cover shows.”

It Won't Last

Front and back covers for “It Won’t Last”

Guided by Foxbury’s insight, they have turned the idea into a viable enterprise.

“We essentially just route out a tour of where we want to go, and then call and email. We’re basically salesmen: Can we come and play here? And they say yes, believe it or not,” Guckert said. “You send out a hundred emails and maybe two people get back to you, but at least two people get back to you. It doesn’t take that much to send out an email.”

Their travels have taken them throughout the United States – they played 60 shows in 90 days on the road – and on a spring tour in Canada. Along the way, they keep the Living Street’s fans apprised of their adventures with plenty of social media posts.

As for the duo’s name, it comes from a type of thoroughfare designed primarily with the interests of pedestrians and cyclists in mind. By the way, the Dutch word for a living street, “woonerf,” also is used as the American term and doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

As for Angelo and Guckert, their goal is to continue to perform, write and record with the hope of attracting major management attention. And along the way, they’re having a lot of fun.

“I could be done playing music tomorrow, and although I didn’t get to play to 100,000 people, which is also on my bucket list, I did get to do everything else I wanted to do as a musician: tour the country playing my songs for people who want to hear them,” Guckert said. “That’s my dream.”

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Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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