Steep Canyon Rangers at Rex; Owen Benjamin at Improv (CPs Thurs., 11/07/13)

1) Early in his career, Steve Martin used his banjo skills in comedy routines. When the funny man began a late-in-life effort as a serious musician, he called in the Steep Canyon Rangers as his backup band. Not a group of hipsters who dabble in the genre after seeing Mumford and Sons do the same, these North Carolina boys are seriously dedicated to bluegrass. With a contract with prominent roots music label Rounder Records and a 2013 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, Steep Canyon Rangers has — forgive the awful pun — climbed to the top of the old-timey folk music world. Today, they’re at the Rex Theatre. 8 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side.

2) Many comedians have riffed on the differences between women and men, but few are as funny as this week’s Improv headliner, Owen Benjamin. The Upstate New York-raised comic and Tonight Show with Jay Leno contributor is relentless about the over-complicating nature of Cosmo-type magazines, the tendency of a girlfriend to always be a little mad at her beau and the ridiculous competitiveness between women. And if you’re too jaded with that kind of comedy, Benjamin sometimes busts out his keyboard to make fun of Radiohead. He’s also got a killer story about a dog carcass and a 24-hour Home Depot. 8 p.m. Through Nov. 10. 166 E. Bridge St.,The Waterfront,  Homestead.

3) Don’t let the title of the play fool you. Parlour Song may sound like a genteel comedy of manners, but this is a Quantum Theatre production, which means there will be weird stuff going on. You’ve got a central character who is a demolitions expert. And the playwright is Jez Butterworth, author of works such as Mojo, a dark comedy about Atlantic City gangsters. But Parlour Song is set in a pleasant English neighborhood, which means that Quantum has found the perfect local venue in which to present it. The play is at The Waterfront in the building formerly known as Pittsburgh Burger Company. Parlour Song is directed by Martin Giles. 8 p.m. 201 West Waterfront Dr., Homestead.

4) And So I Watch You From Afar is a wordy name for a band that otherwise doesn’t put much value on words. The Irish foursome plays lumbering, mostly instrumental hard rock with a complexity and often an intensity that a baroque chamber quartet would envy. Today, they are headlining a show at the Garfield Art Works that will include another instrumental math rock band from across the pond, This Town Needs Guns, as well as Pittsburgh’s own, My Captain, My Sea and Mylets, a little-known one-man band. 7 p.m. 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield.

5) Country-tinged folk singer/songwriter Scott Miller — the one-time band leader on the Jeff Foxworthy/Larry the Cable Guy sketch comedy show “Blue Collar TV” — doesn’t just sing about hard work and rural life; he lives it. When not on tour or recording, he keeps his family’s Virginia cattle farm a-running. And his music is more reflective than his lifestyle would suggest. Today, he takes a break from tagging cows’ ears to play Club Café. Opening is former Holy Sea lead singer Henry F. Skerritt. 8 p.m. 56-58 South 12th St., South Side.

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Nick Keppler

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