Blake Shelton and Friends at PPG Paints Arena; Stage AE Hosts Dillon Francis and Alison Wonderland; Paul Taylor Dance (Sat., 2/23/19)

1) Blake Shelton‘s background pegs him a genuine old-school country boy. Born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma, he learned to pick and sing from family members, then at 17 moved directly from Ada to Nashville. But Shelton also typifies the cutting-edge modern face of country music—open to eclectic influences, and reaching out to all audiences, as he tried to illustrate in his famous video of “Boys ‘Round Here” (above). In songs like “Sangria” and “Neon Light,” he mixes traditional country themes with new musical touches. And Shelton makes all his tunes work by virtue of how naturally he comes across. With a fine natural singing voice and an easy, engaging manner, he doesn’t have to shout or showboat to bring life to a song; he just brings himself. A multiple Grammy winner and Grand Ole Opry member, Shelton was named the Country Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year five years in a row.  He is also a judge on the NBC singing competition show “The Voice” and the boyfriend of Gwen Stefani. 2017’s Texoma Shore is Shelton’s latest studio album. This is Shelton’s Friends and Heroes Tour featuring Bellamy Brothers, John Anderson, Trace Adkins, and Lauren Alaina. 7 p.m.  PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (MV, RH)

2) Dillon Francis, an EDM artist from Los Angeles, headlined Music X Arts, formerly the two-day Thrival Music, at Highmark Stadium in September 2018. Now he and Alison Wonderland, an EDM artist from Sydney, Australia, will co-headline a show at Stage AE. Wonderland (née Alexandra Sholler) adopted her stage name as a pun on Lewis Carroll’s classic book. She released her debut LP, Run, in 2015, and she followed it with 2018’s Awake. Songs such as “U Don’t Know,” which features Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, will certainly make you feel as if you have fallen through the looking glass. Francis has also released two LPs, 2014’s Money Sucks, Friends Rule and 2018’s Wut Wut, plus numerous singles. His compositions often fall under a subgenre of EDM, the relatively new “moombahton.” If you like beeps, boops, and dancing, then this concert is for you. Special guest is Diablo. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Paul Taylor was athletic, eclectic, and a heck of a choreographer. (photo: Carl Van Vechten, 1960)

Paul Taylor was athletic, eclectic, and a heck of a choreographer. (photo: Carl Van Vechten, 1960)

3) Calling a great event a “must-see” doesn’t work—people have heard the cliché so often they no longer believe it—so let’s stick to facts. The Paul Taylor Dance Company is visiting Pittsburgh. Paul Taylor himself, a world-renowned figure in modern dance, died last summer, at 88. The company is dancing a program that showcases the range of works he created. And there aren’t many ranges like it. Taylor, born in Wilkinsburg but raised mostly in the Washington, D.C. area, had highly eclectic interests and ideas combined with a maverick personality and serious choreographic chops. His bizarre “3 Epitaphs” comes across like a daffy dream sequence from a noir sci-fi fantasy. In “Promethean Fire,” the entire troupe mixes simple movements with acrobatics to generate rippling, swirling patterns on stage. “Company B” is set to the bouncy World War II-era pop tunes of the Andrews Sisters, but includes chilling wartime imagery—such as silhouetted soldiers fighting and dying in the background while a happy home-front couple dances to the “Pennsylvania Polka.” The diverse program includes more. 8 p.m. Tonight only. Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District. (MV)

4) Moonchild is an interesting Alternative R&B band whose music is situated at the confluence of jazz and neo-soul. They have collaborated or toured with many highly respected artists in the soul, jazz, and hip-hop genres including Stevie Wonder, Kamasi Washington, Jill Scott, and India.Aire. Moonchild’s latest album is 2017s Voyager. Tonight they will be performing at the Trust Arts Education Center. 8 p.m. 807 Liberty Ave., Cultural District.

5) For the first time in 19 years Netflix Lights! Glamour! Action! the Pittsburgh Film Office’s annual gala has been moved to Saturday night to allow for more movie fun. The event will be held at The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh. Guests can walk the red carpet under the former train station’s rotunda and enjoy other glamorous decor including a film industry inspired runway fashion show. There will be delicious food from local restaurants, silent auctions, live music, and dancing. The VIP ticket includes a performance by the Pittsburgh band Beauty Slap, specialty cocktails, and other premium offerings. VIP 6 p.m. General Admission 8 p.m. 1100 Liberty Ave., Downtown.


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Rick Handler

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