Fun Chris Day: Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Mr. Smalls; Chris Botti Plays Heinz Hall (CPs Sun., 2/8/15)

1) Chris Robinson is best known for the long-time and highly successful, collaborative effort with his brother Rich, which created The Black Crowes. The Robinson brothers sometimes had differing opinions on how to do things and this led to production and touring breaks from the band. Now Chris, formerly married to actress Kate Hudson, has reignited his side project—The Chris Robinson Brotherhood. The band’s style is of a blues/rock nature with Robinson’s rich vocals combining with great guitar, organ, keyboard and drum work and a touch of southern jam rock. Don’t expect to hear many Black Crowes’ tunes in the sets; Robinson and band are playing songs from their latest album Phosphorescent Harvest, plus songs from past side projects, and noted covers like Hank Ballard and the Midnighters’ “Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go” and “Poor Elijah / Tribute to Johnson” by Delaney & Bonnie.

Chris Robinson in his bio info sums up the spirit of the Brotherhood : “We don’t make music that can sell iPads. Our music will not sell you a Prius. I like that. Writing songs has always led me to good things in my life. The songwriting saved me through the dark times, and the songwriting makes it that much sweeter when it’s good. Real success can only come in pursuit of an authentic sound. We’re all very committed to this music, beyond money and egos. That’s a unique place to be.” The group’s local visit promises to be a top concert and one that may be flying under the radar. 8 p.m. Mr. Smalls, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.


2) Portland, Oregon native and sublime trumpeter, Chris Botti ends a three day concert run at Heinz Hall tonight. Botti has had four of his albums reach no.1 on the Billboard Jazz charts and was nominated for Five Grammy Awards—winning the 2013 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. He was a McDonalds’ All American High School Jazz band member and played Carnegie Hall with the rest of the winners. Botti has toured with music legends Frank Sinatra, Buddy Rich, and Paul Simon. He’s also gained large exposure for numerous television appearances and his 2006 PBS special “Chris Botti Live: With Orchestra and Special Guests.” 2:30 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District.

3) One reason great stories are “timeless” is that they can be told many different ways. Beauty and the Beast began as an adult fantasy tale written in France in the 1700s. Over the years, this story of a monster redeemed by love has been re-done numerous times in books, plays, and films, with treatments that vary widely. (Compare Jean Cocteau’s eerie 1946 film to the Disney movie.) The story’s dramatic dance of emotions also has made it a natural subject for ballets, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater presents a stunning but seldom-seen modern rendition. Lew Christensen’s Beauty and the Beastchoreographed to selections from Tchaikovsky—was a longtime audience favorite at San Francisco Ballet, then fell out of the repertoire in the 1980s. PBT’s revival is its Pittsburgh premiere. 2 p.m. Continues through Feb. 15.  Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District.

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Rick Handler

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