Have you heard of Norm Nardini? Well you should!  Norm is a long time friend of the Food Bank and a featured artist in this year’s Blues Festival lineup. Norm took some time to answer a few questions for us, so you all can get to know him a bit better. Could he get any more cool?!

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Can you tell us a little bit about yourself beyond music? Hometown etc.

My parents are first generation Italians from Homewood-Brushton.  When I was born in 1950, we lived on Rosedale St. in Homewood.  We moved to Cheswick when I was four years old, then moved to a house in Wilkins Township when I was 11. I bought that house in Wilkins from my parents in 2001 and continue to live there to this day.

How long have you been playing/creating music? A bit of history here on who/what/why built your passion for music or the blues specifically?

I started takin’ accordion lessons when I was five or six years old, started to study guitar at the age of 12. I started playin’ guitar and organ in bands when I was 14, met and started to play with Rob Johns at the age of 16.  We played together for years, then at the age of 24, he and I got involved with Bob “Bubs” McKeag, Frank Czuri, and Warren King. This led to what I believe to be the beginning of the original rock music scene in this town.

Through my late teenage years and early twenties I got attracted to blues and blues based music — artists like Muddy Waters, Willy Dixon, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, John Mayall, Ray Charles, BB King and Taj Mahall.  I went to Berklee School of Music in Boston for a short time and was lucky enough to meet Big Mama Thorton and play a week’s worth of gigs at Boston’s Jazz Workshop as her guitarist.  George Harmonica Smith was her harp player at the time.

Who is your favorite Music/Blues Artist?

Can’t say who my favorite artist is but I can say that I am a huge fan of the artists that I’ve already mentioned and others like Keb Mo, Levon Helm, Steve Earle, Gladys Knight, Louie Prima, The Rolling Stones, Hank Williams Sr, Dan Penn and Solomon Burke.

Any particular artists that influence you?

My influences would include Glenn Pavone, Warren King, Frank Czuri and The Stones.

Is there a particular song you really love to cover?

I don’t do many covers, but I do enjoy covering Bob Dylan’s music.

Why is the Food Bank’s mission important to you?

I believe that the Food Bank does something that our hustle bustle society of today looks past, and that would be, folks that haven’t been able to fit in and find a place for themselves and their families.  It’s very important to include the folks that need help, for whatever reason. It’s simple, the Food Bank feeds folks that are hungry.

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Why do you think the Blues Fest is an important community event?

I believe it’s important for people to look after one another, the blues started off as the music of poor people and I think it makes sense that, today, this music is the music that now draws folks together in support of those that need support, it makes sense t’me.

Who are you most excited to see at Blues this year?

Bobby Rush

What message/takeaway do you hope everyone who attends Blues Fest walks away with this year?

When people walk away from the Blues Fest I hope they feel uplifted by the high level music they were a witness to and I hope they realize that by attending, they offered support to those folks among us that need some support at this time.

What would you say to anyone who might be considering attending Blues, but is just not quite sure?

If you’re not sure about spending some valuable time at this year’s Pittsburgh Blues Festival, consider this, the cultural effect that blues music has had on America is world changing, all over Europe, blues music continues to thrive, year after year after year……by showing support for this music you are investing in the best of American history. When we’re all dead n’gone, American blues music will continue to grow and influence our entire world.

Stand up n’ show society that as Americans we realize the importance of our musical contributions over the years………Muddy Waters, Little Richard, Little Willy John, Willy Dixon, Little Walter, Otis Rush, Stevie Ray Vaughn, T-Bone Walker, the Kings, BB- Albert- Freddy and on and on and on.  Get on board with the blues and help another human being who needs your support……you can’t lose when you git wit the blues.