By Scott Mervis
Published: November 20, 2008
• Working-man's troubadour Mike Stout has delivered a birthday gift to the city and its inhabitants with "The Point of Pittsburgh," an album of songs that celebrates our hard-scrabble history.
The moody folk-rock album, a companion piece to the Charles McCollester book of the same name, deals with such subjects as civil rights, worker safety, child labor laws, fair wages, freedom and justice. Among those celebrated by Stout's pleasant voice are abolitionist Martin Delany, boxer Billy Conn ("The Boxer and the Blonde") and labor leaders Fannie Sellins, The Cotton Mill Workers, Crystal Eastman, Monsignor Charles Owen Rice and Sean George.
The violent McKees Rocks strike of 1909 is recalled in a harder rock song, "Blood on the Rocks," and the demise of the steel industry is a delivered in the country-flavored tune "Homestead Town"
The CD opens with "Happy Birthday to Pittsburgh," a song that summarizes everything to follow and even touches on "Steeler Nation spread all over the globe."
Stout will deliver some of the songs, along with Joe Grushecky and The NewLanders, and Pittsburghers such as state Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Highland Park) will read stories from the book Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Carnegie Lecture Hall in a benefit for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The $50 ticket price includes copies of "The Point of Pittsburgh" book and CD. Call 412-460-3663, ext. 205, or go to www.pointofpittsburgh.com.