Vintage Grand Prix Weekend Opens: Night of Doo Wop at The Palace; (CPs Sat., 7/19/14)

1) Drivers start your engines! Fans lower your tailgates! It’s the start of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix race weekend in Schenley Park.Today’s featured events include practice runs (8:15 a.m. – noon); race qualifying heats with over 150 vintage racers (1 – 5 p.m.); car shows featuring international & British cars (9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.). For a $40 charitable donation you can even take a lap around the course as a passenger in a vintage racer through the Vintage Lap Experience (noon -12:50 p.m.). Race heats are tomorrow from noon to 5 p.m.. Charities benefiting from race proceeds are the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School. Free.

2) Visit Greensburg’s historic Palace Theatre for A Night of Doo Wop, which features performances by historic bands The Drifters (Charlie Thomas’ 1958 iteration of the band), The Coasters, and The Crystals. What’s on offer here is classic American music, exemplary of the stuff we know today as “oldies,” performed by bands with rich histories, all of whom played major roles in the world of rock ‘n’ roll and popular music. If you were alive for the golden age of doo wop, you probably already know these groups fairly well. Even if you weren’t alive then, you’ve likely heard their music anyway, assuming you’re even peripherally interested in pop culture. We have these groups to thank for hits like “There Goes My Baby” and “This Magic Moment” (The Drifters); “Down in Mexico” and “Yakety Yak” (The Coasters); and “Then He Kissed Me” (The Crystals)—all of which, and more, have been featured on numerous soundtracks over the years. 7:30 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg.

3) Clear out in deep space, light years away, on the far side of the musical continuum, local electronic artist Tobacco grooves and rages into the night. Hailing from Allegheny County, Tobacco is best known as the front man for the band Black Moth Super Rainbow, which has opened for acclaimed bands like the Flaming Lips. Tobacco himself produces sludgy electronic music powered by old-school, low-fidelity audio effects and vocoder-filtered vocals. It’s angry, it’s paranoid, and—be warned—in many cases it’s laced gill-to-gill with expletives. Much of Tobacco’s library sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of a remake of the ‘80s cult classic film The Warriors—or maybe even on the original movie’s soundtrack. Either way, Mr. Smalls Funhouse showcases Tobacco and his catalog tonight, along with appearances by The Stargazer Lilies and Zackey Force Funk. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.

4) These days, our Zeitgeist is confused, overwhelmed, and caught in a seeming sensory overload. We’re addicted to nostalgia, obsessed with the past—our current culture reflects that. And why shouldn’t we be? It’s our history, our national identity, and besides that, it’s just…cool. Take, for instance, Acacia, located in the South Side Flats. Acacia’s specialty is simple; this isn’t a million-square-foot Mega Sports Bar with all-you-can-drink light beer specials. Rather, Acacia specializes in hand-crafted pre-prohibition cocktails and a laid-back speakeasy theme. Acacia doesn’t beg for your attention as you walk past on East Carson—it’s easy to miss, given its boarded-up windows and newspapered-over front door. Still, make no mistake: Acacia is no “hole in the wall.” The cocktails are carefully measured, prepared, garnished, and served by a friendly staff. The draft beer and cocktail menu is always changing—and the liquor list is immense. Try something that sounds good or, better yet, ask your server for a suggestion. You really can’t go wrong. For fans of spicy, the Faust’s Pact comes highly recommended. Whether you’re looking for a launch pad for your night out or merely a nightcap, Acacia’s worth a look. 2108 E. Carson St.

5) The Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. Arrive at Federal Street early for another block party beginning at 5:30 p.m., including an appearance by Pirates alumnus Rennie Stennett at the Budweiser Bar. Stay after the game for another Zambelli Fireworks presentation. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. 115 Federal St., North Shore.

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Dan Hoyt

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