Art Festival on Walnut Opens; Lady Antebellum Sing for First Niagara (CPs Sat., 8/23/14)

1) Saturday marks the first day of the 17th Annual Art Festival on Walnut Street in Shadyside. Though many Pittsburgh natives are well acquainted with Shadyside and its charming architecture and beautiful greenery, this festival is one in a series of art festivals taking place across the country, organized by Howard Alan Events, which has arranged festivals from Hilton Head, SC., to Aspen, CO. What better neighborhood—what more charming avenue—could be chosen? As the official Howard Alan page notes, “Shadyside features boutiques, shops and galleries mingled with national retailers in a neighborhood of tree-line streets, historic homes, hip events, and distinctive restaurants.” Indeed. The featured giveaway for this weekend’s festivities is a mixed media 3D painting by Luisa Velasquez, aptly titled “Flor Roja,” which translates to “red flower” for non-bilingual readers. Impressively, Velasquez is one in over a hundred artists in a wide range of disciplines (painting, jewelry, photography, and many more). Today, running from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and tomorrow, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free.  Walnut Street business district, Shadyside.

2) Country music trio Lady Antebellum makes a stop at First Niagara Pavilion on their Take Me #Downtown Tour. Composed of vocalist Hillary Scott, guitarist/vocalist Charles Kelley, and instrumentalist Dave Haywood, the group has proven their staying power as country music stars, having won two Grammy Awards and numerous country music awards of various sorts. The group is probably best known for their 2009 single “Need You Now,” a poignant duet that braids the vocal talent of both Scott and Kelley into a single melancholy harmony. The band formed in Nashville in 2006 and rose extraordinarily quickly and now sits among some of country music’s top contemporary talent. Since then, they’ve likewise only continued to grow their fan base with appearances in arenas and major amphitheaters across the United States. This tour anticipates their upcoming album, 747, due out September 30. Opening is Billy Currington and Joe Nichols7 p.m.. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown.

3) Jacksonville-based rockers .38 Special bring their powerhouse rock ‘n’ roll to Washington’s Meadows Racetrack and Casino. The band was formed in the mid-‘70s by friends Don Barnes and Donnie Van Zant (brother of the late Lynyrd Skynryd lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and Johnnie Van Zant, current lead singer of Skynyrd) and hasn’t eased off the gas since. .38 Special’s genre at its inception was something that wouldn’t sound out of place on Dazed and Confused’s soundtrack—kind of a southern-style rock ‘n’ roll. However, their sound has shifted and evolved considerably since. For example, compare 1978’s “I’m A Fool For You” with their breakout hit “Hold On Loosely,” only three years later (which was their first major hit and remains their biggest hit to this day). The difference is notable—what each entry in .38 Special’s library has in common, however, is that every song showcases their outstanding ability to rock out. 8 p.m. 210 Racetrack Rd., Washington.

4) Isn’t it always the case that  there are several great things to do on the same day/days. Well, there’s another great festival this weekend in a neighborhood bordering Shadyside. Bloomfield is hosting Little Italy Days. At this festival you’ll find an abundance of delicious Italian food and baked goods, music, dancing, boccie ballsidewalk sales, and maybe a little vino. Some of the stalwarts of the Bloomfield culinary scene are Alexander’s BistroThe Pleasure BarDel’sLombardozzi’sTessaro’sSausalito,  and Pizza Italia. Noon – 10 p.m. today;  noon – 7 p.m. Aug. 24, Free. Liberty Avenue, Bloomfield business district