Buckwheat Zydeco Brings His Good-time Music to Club Cafe; Neko Case Performs at Mr. Smalls (Sun., 2/28/16)

1) Don’t call Buckwheat Zydeco a geezer rocker. His music isn’t actually rock, though it rocks, and despite his age, he’s no geezer—he’s a squeezer. The man born 68 years ago as Stanley Dural, Jr. is an accordion superstar. Raised in a musical family on a Louisiana farm, Buckwheat was an organist for R&B/soul acts before switching to the squeezebox and getting so deeply into Creole-and-Cajun-based zydeco music that he named himself after it. A virtuoso of zydeco’s raucous, high-spirited sound, he has released over 20 albums, and has recorded and performed with musicians ranging from Ry Cooder to Robert Plant. Now Buckwheat and his band will unleash their whirlwind playing style within the cozy confines of Club Cafe. 9 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (MV)

 

2) “Country noir”—that’s the genre Neko Case classifies herself as. It’s a genre that was years in the making. She’s contributed lead and backing vocals to numerous songs by indie rock band The New Pornographers while also displaying a decided twang on her alt country solo records. The “noir,” meanwhile, comes from her sometimes macabre lyrics, such as on “Star Witness.” That track is off 2006’s critically acclaimed album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Her most recent release, 2013’s The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, was met with similar acclaim. (Check out the bitingly ironic “Man.”) Her musical stylings and wit make her the perfect artist to play out February at Mr. Smalls. Jennifer O’Connor opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

 

Gertrude Stein at home under her portrait by Picasso, who is a character in "Twenty-Seven."

Gertrude Stein at home under her portrait by Picasso, who is a character in “Twenty-Seven.”

3) Two prominent artistic figures lived briefly in Pittsburgh before their trajectories crossed many years later. Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny (now the North Side) in 1874, then moved away with her family at age 3, eventually settling in Paris where she became an avant-garde writer and a famous friend to famous artists. Long Island native Ricky Ian Gordon studied at Carnegie Mellon in the 1970s on his way to becoming a composer, known for musical works adapted from American literature. Gordon has written operas including The Grapes of Wrath, from Steinbeck’s novel, and art songs like the quirky “Lana Turner Has Collapsed,” from a Frank O’Hara poem. Was it inevitable that he would compose a Gertrude Stein opera? Twenty-Seven, titled after Stein’s Paris address at 27 Rue de Fleurus, is being staged by Pittsburgh Opera after its recent premiere in St. Louis. The opera presents scenes from her storied life—especially her long relationship with Alice B. Toklas—and has been praised for combining Stein-ish humor with lively music. The libretto is by Royce Vavrek. Pittsburgh Opera’s Twenty-Seven has mezzo-soprano Laurel Semerdjian as Stein and soprano Adelaide Boedecker as Toklas. 2 p.m. Last day. At the company’s headquarters, 2425 Liberty Ave., Strip District. (MV)