Anthony Pirog is making his mark on the guitar playing universe, one sonically enthralling, diversely influenced project after another. From his work on Janel and Anthony’s “Where is Home,” described in Guitar Player Magazine as “approachable experimentalism,” to what AllMusic described as “pristinely executed rock guitar solos” with Skysaw, Anthony displays a “crystalline tone that’s immediately recognizable as his own” in his ever-evolving conception of how a guitar can sound.
Born in Lewisburg, PA, Pirog lived in Chevy Chase, MD and Carmel Valley, CA before his family settled in the Washington D.C. area. In high school, he was in more than a dozen bands before an interest in free jazz and experimental music led him to study jazz guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston, eventually completing his degree in jazz performance at NYU in 2004. By then, he had distinguished himself, quickly earning a reputation as a masterful guitarist, capable of using his studied yet unorthodox voice to fit a wide range of musical styles including jazz, country, fingerstyle and old time music, free improvisation, free jazz, surf and experimental music.
Pirog has played with musicians across a wide spectrum of styles and genres, performing with renowned avant jazzers such as Henry Kaiser, Elliot Sharp, Michael Formanek, Ches Smith, Mary Halvorson, William Hooker, William Parker, Eyvind Kang, Skuli Sverrisson, Allison Miller, Jon Irabagon, Doug Weiselman, Susan Alcorn, Dave Ballou, Andrew Bishop, Balázs Pándi, Gino Robair, Tatsuya Nakatani, James Brandon Lewis, Jessika Kenney. He has played in myriad jazz, electronic and improvisational groups up and down the East Coast, including Out of Your Head Collective, Better Than Lost, Beep Honk, Kung Fu Bastard, The Landscaping Crew, The Bobby Muncy Quartet, Ad Hoc Quartet, Inner Loop and Stylus. In 2012, he performed a sold-out show at The Stone with Violet (Jeff Surak) and Berlin filmmaker Sylvia Schedelabuer.
He has performed with rock, roots and rockabilly musicians and ensembles like Bill Kirchen, Tab Benoit Billy Hancock, Dave Elliot, Joe Stanley, The Dave Kitchen Band at SXSW 2008, The El Rays, The Rocking Bones and many, many others. He also played with ex-Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain in the rock trio Skysaw, who’s album was released on Dangerbird Records in 2011.
Pirog leads several groups of his own including The Anthony Pirog Trio, Quintet, Sextet and Septet. He led a 22-member ensemble in performance of Terry Riley’s “In C” at the Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music, a D.C.-area festival for new music at which he has become a staple, performing for seven straight years. The 2011 performance garnered a favorable review in The Washington Post. He went on to record a similar session, leading a 30-piece ensemble playing “In C,” released in 2014. His solo work can be found on his record label, Sonic Mass Records.
As part of the Janel and Anthony duo, he has toured the East and West Coasts as well as the Midwest. In October 2010 they enjoyed a residency at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. Janel and Anthony’s second album “Where is Home” has received international praise and radio play from places like the BBC, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, Downbeat Magazine, AllMusic and The Huffington Post. “Where is Home” appeared on 10 “Best of 2012” lists, DownBeat Magazine’s “Best Albums of 2013” list and is available on Cuneiform Records. The Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) awarded “Where Is Home” Best Modern Rock Recording for 2012. Additionally, Janel and Anthony’s 2006 self-titled debut album has been re-released by Cricket Cemetery Records in 2012. In 2013, Janel and Anthony recorded an original piece, “Head and Shoulders” on Sangoplasmo Records, composed by Lithuanian composer Arturas Bumsteinas, which The Wire Magazine called a “highly attractive work.”
He has played at many DC area venues including the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian, 9:30 Club, Black Cat, The Hamilton, Twin’s Jazz, Bohemian Caverns, The Rock and Roll Hotel, DC9, The Velvet Lounge, Iota, Galaxy Hut, Strathmore Mansion and the French Embassy, in addition to playing the Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music, and he has appeared in numerous concerts presented by Transparent Productions, Capital Bop, Claveus Productions, Electric Possible and Brightest Young Things.
In 2011, the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA), Washington’s most prestigious music awards, named Pirog Washington’s Best Modern Rock Instrumentalist. In 2012 he was awarded a “Jazzie” by The Washington City Paper as Best Guitarist 2012, “the hands-down victor.” The Washington Post praised his music in 2012 for its “fusion of talent and creativity.” He was featured in a September 2012 article in Guitar Player Magazine on “Rising Artists You Must Hear” and in January 2013, he was featured in a 5-page interview in Guitar Player Magazine in which he was praised for his “copious creativity” and “loopy, cross-genre melodicism.”