Ben Folds, Animal Collective, Esperanza Spalding, and Gordon Lightfoot in Area Concerts (Fri., 10/7/16)

1) Singer-songwriter Ben Folds has long bridged pop and orchestral, dating back to his time with his band, Ben Folds Five, and hits such as “Brick.” The group disbanded in 2000 and a year later, Folds released his debut solo album, Rockin’ the Suburbs. The title track charted on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks, ironic as it lampoons some modern rock bands. The Ben Folds Five regrouped in 2011 and went back on hiatus in 2013. In 2015, Folds collaborated with yMusic, a New-York-City-based sextet ensemble, on So There, an album of original chamber pop songs. The album also includes one piano concerto recorded with the Nashville Symphony. Folds and yMusic toured together to promote the album, a tour which included a stop in Munhall. He returns to Munhall’s Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, armed with only his piano this time. The show promises to be a return in style to his earlier solo shows. 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. (CM)

2) Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist, and the elusive Deakin are Animal Collective. From the chaos of their debut album (2000’s Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished) to the ache and fun of 2004’s Sung Tongs and 2005’s Feels, these four men from Baltimore have always created music that most bands don’t even think to attempt. When Merriweather Post Pavilion dropped in 2009, the press and the public reacted identically: “Wait, Animal Collective just released one of the greatest albums of all time?!” Yes, they did, propelled by the surprisingly accessible single, “My Girls.” Deakin, who was absent on Merriweather, was too busy with a solo album to appear on this year’s Painting With. Art inspired the LP as evinced by not only its title but also the lead single, “FloriDada.” The temporary trio play a sold out show at Mr. Smalls Theater stage for those fortunate enough to have tickets. Eric Copeland opens. 9 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

3) Esperanza Spalding is renowned for her special mix of jazz, blues, hip-hop, Brazilian, and Afro-Cuban influences. Spalding, a native of Portland, Oregon, is considered a multi-talented, musical “slash,” an accomplished composer, singer, and bassist. She also sings in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. In 2011, she won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, and her live appearances include a performance at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies at Oslo City Hall. This year, she released her fifth studio album, Emily’s D+Evolution, and has been touring the album this fall. Emily is not only her middle name but also her muse, whom she channelled for the LP. According to her website, her live performances are “for the first time, incorporating stage design, movement and acting into her already vivid musical storytelling practice.” Stage director and playwright Will Wiegler helped to create the production, which she brings this month to the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. 8 p.m. 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (RH/CM)

4) Bob Dylan once said of listening to a Gordon Lightfoot song, “I wish it would last forever.” The man widely thought of as America’s greatest songwriter was paying homage to the man who is almost universally acknowledged as Canada’s best. Lightfoot is credited as a major influence in the folk-pop sound of the ’60s and ’70s. He’s had multiple singles cracking the top five on the US charts, one of his most memorable being “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,”a memorial to a freighter that went down in Lake Superior in 1975. Another is 1970’s “If You Could read My Mind” which reached No. 5 on the U.S. Charts. Loved by the public and fellow musicians alike, his songs have been covered by everyone from Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to Sarah McLachlan and Toby Keith. Lightfoot will be at The Palace Theatre for an 8 p.m. show. 21 West Otterman St., Greensburg. (EC, RH)

5) Rising country rocker Brett Staggs grew up on a Williamsport, Pennsylvania horse farm and had many musical influences including The Traveling Wilburys, Sonic Distortion, The Clash, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, and Hank Williams. After working as a drummer/back up singer in the Austin, Texas music scene he moved to Pittsburgh to start a solo career. His latest recording—an EP titled Nothing Bad Ever Happens To Me—drops today and to celebrate its release he is performing at Mr. Smalls Funhouse stage tonight. Special guest is Barrels to Beethoven. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.

6) Joan Soriano mixes Afro-Dominican sacred traditions with bachata music, fusing his music with down to earth spirit and dance-ability. He pays homage to bachata’s Dominican roots and expands on them. The result is a rare combination of new and authentic music. Soriano plays steel string bachata with equal parts romance and grit. The Afro-infused rhythm that permeates his music has made him a favorite among dancers. During set breaks, a local disc jockey will spin salsa and bachata music for continuous dancing. 10:30 p.m. Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave. Cultural District.

Free RAdical Days Events

PITTSBURGH BOTANIC GARDEN
Free admission 11am–3pm
Wander our 60-acre Woodlands and enjoy an award-winning Lotus Pond, the stunning Margaret Lawrence Simon Dogwood Meadow and three miles of groomed trails. The Garden connects people with the history and beauty of Western Pennsylvania.
799 Pinkerton Run Road (Oakdale) · pittsburghbotanicgarden.org

PITTSBURGH GLASS CENTER AND NEW HAZLETT THEATER
Free Admission 10am–9pm
In addition to glassblowing demonstrations, Pittsburgh Glass Center and the New Hazlett Theater present a fresh sampling of local artists from the New Hazlett’s latest CSA Performance Series and a glass exhibition by Jason Forck and Seth Clark.
5472 Penn Avenue (Garfield/Friendship)  · pittsburghglasscenter.org · newhazletttheater.org

PITTSBURGH CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Free Admission 10am–5pm
Tours, plus a family friendly drop-in activity from 10am-noon.
6300 Fifth Avenue (Shadyside) · pfpca.org