Dawes Plays Roxian; ‘The Band’s Visit’ Re-opens for PNC Broadway; Byham Hosts Keller Williams (Thurs., 10/28/21)

1) Dawes drew a large crowd for their 2017 concert at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. For this Pittsburgh visit you can find them at the Roxian Theatre. An earlier, more post-punk incarnation of the Los Angeles quartet was called “Simon Dawes.” The moniker came from the middle names of members Blake Mills and Taylor Goldsmith. (When Mills left, the group dropped the “Simon.”) The band went in a folk rock direction and in 2009 recorded and released its debut album, North Hills. In 2014, members and brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith played on Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes. The album was based on uncovered lyrics handwritten by Bob Dylan in 1967 during the recording of material that eventually was released in 1975 on the album The Basement Tapes. Elvis Costello, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, Rhiannon Giddens, and many others also contributed. Mills returned to produce Dawes’s 2016 album, 2016’s We’re All Gonna Die. Dawes latest release is 2020’s Good Luck with Whatever. Opening is Erin Rae. 7 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks.  (C.M.) 

Dawes jamming the Arts Festival audience. (l. to r.), Duane Betts, Lee Pardini, Taylor Goldsmith, Griffin Goldsmith, and Wylie Gelber.

Dawes jamming the Arts Festival audience. (l. to r.), Trevor Menear, Lee Pardini, Taylor Goldsmith, Griffin Goldsmith, and Wylie Gelber. (photo: Rick Handler)

THE BAND’S VISIT (musical) by David Yazbek and Itamar Moses, from the movie. Touring company at Benedum Center. Oct. 28 – 31. 

The touring production of 'The Band's Visit' features touching moments between Dina (Janet Dacal) and Tewfiq (Sasson Gabay). Gabay starred in the film on which the musical is based. (photo: Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade. )

‘The Band’s Visit’ features touching moments between Dina (Janet Dacal, R) and Tewfiq (Sasson Gabay). Gabay starred in the film on which the musical is based. (photo: Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade)

2) On Broadway, The Band’s Visit won a staggering 10 Tony Awards in 2018, including the so-called Big Six: Best Musical, Book, Score, Direction, and Leading Actor and Actress. The show is also a fine example of the recent wave of offbeat, smaller-scale musicals, as it differs from traditional Broadway hits in several respects. The score has no big stand-up-and-cheer numbers. Nothing changes dramatically in the story (although it bristles with seriocomic intrigue). And the setting is far from America. The title group in The Band’s Visit is an Egyptian policemen’s band on a cultural visit to Israel. When a band member mispronounces the name of a city where they are to play, they wind up on the wrong bus, which leaves them stranded in a remote town in the Negev desert. The locals greet them by singing “Welcome to Nowhere”—and the rest is a series of interactions between unexpected Egyptians and isolated Israelis. What audiences find deeply moving is how the two groups find common ground: They’re all humans longing for connection in a fragmented world. The touring production of The Band’s Visit arrives in Pittsburgh to complete a run that was interrupted by last year’s pandemic. See our March 2020 review of the production. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (R.H.)

3) “One-man jam band.” The phrase may appear oxymoronic. That is, until you see Keller Williams live, playing songs like “Freeker by the Speaker.” The Virginia native, active since 1991, often loops guitar, bass, and percussion while playing solo, creating the effect of a full band. Williams isn’t beneath asking for a little help from his friends. He’s recorded, performed, and toured with bluegrass group the String Cheese Incident, and he’s played in a number of additional ensembles. 2019’s Speed is by Keller and the Keels (the Keels are Jenny and Larry, who are wife and husband, bassist and guitarist, respectively). Williams’s other recent projects include 2017’s Raw and 2018’s Sans. He and the HillBenders brought PettyGrass, bluegrass interpretations of Tom Petty songs, to Pittsburgh in 2019. Now he and Love Canon, a Charlottesville Americana group, bring Grateful Grass to the Byham Theater. They will perform bluegrass interpretations of Grateful Dead songs. 7 p.m. 101 6th St., Cultural District. (C.M.)

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Rick Handler

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