Willie Nelson, Van Morrison, Brandi Carlile, Sturgill Simpson, and Lukas Nelson at Outlaw Fest; Pgh Irish Fest; A Fair in the Park (Fri., 9/7/18)

1) Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and we’re very lucky because he’s stopping in the ‘Burgh to entertain us. He’ll be headlining the Outlaw Music Festival as it swings by KeyBank Pavilion with its strong lineup of top musicians and groups. Nelson is a singer/songwriter/author/activist/businessman and more. He’s had a storied career that includes a Kennedy Center Honor. In 1993, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. One of the founders of Farm Aid, which started in 1985 to help struggling farmers, Nelson was inducted into the National Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2011. Nelson’s been known to “inhale” and claimed to have smoked marijuana on the roof of the White House. His 2012 book, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road, is a memoir that became a New York Times Top Ten Best Seller.

Outlaw country troubadour, Willie Nelson

Outlaw country music troubadour, Willie Nelson. photo: David McClister

First and foremost for Nelson is the music. In 1973, turned off by the conservative nature of the Nashville country music scene, he was a founding member of a branch of the industry in Austin, Tex., called outlaw country. Other members included Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings, who joined Nelson to form the outlaw country supergroup The Highwaymen. When Nelson plays, he is joined by musical associates he calls The Family. Nelson’s latest album is God’s Problem Child, released in April 2017. It debuted at no. 1 on the country albums chart.  Amazingly, it is his 72 studio album. With this Outlaw Music Festival event, he’s sure to play many old and new favorites, including “Always on My Mind.”

Van the man” Morrison is a  singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and record producer from Northern Ireland. His vocals and music can be described as a rich, R&B rock n roll sound. Initially, Morrison rose to fame with the group Them and their hit “Gloria.” In his solo career he has created  several iconic songs including “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Moondance,” and “Caravan,” which he performed with The Band in Martin Scorsese’s film “The Last Waltz.” Morrisons Latest LP, and 39th studio album is “You’re Driving Me Crazy.” It was released this April and is a compilation of jazz and blues songs including some songs previously written by Morrison. He collaboration on the album with Joey DeFrancesco

Also on the bill is Brandi Carlile, a folk rock/Americana artist originally from Ravensdale, Washington. She is nominated for Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year for this year’s Americana Music Honors & Awards. Country and roots rock musician Sturgill Simpson will also be performing at the festival.

Lukas Nelson met drummer Anthony LoGerfo at a Neil Young concert in 2008 and they started playing gigs together around Los Angeles, California. Soon thereafter, Nelson left his studies at Loyola Marymount University to pursue his music dreams full-time. He added several other musicians to form Promise of the Real. The versatile band has a sound that can range from rock, to country, to Americana. In 2009 they opened for Lukas’ dad, the legendary country singer/songwriter Willie Nelson, for a nine show tour. Since then Nelson and the band have released five studio albums with 2017’s self-titled album reaching no. 2 on Billboard’s country chart. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real are also Neil Young’s backing band (since 2015) and have even recorded two albums with him. Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real will also be in the upcoming remake of the film A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. They appear as Bradley Cooper’s band. Nelson co-produced the music and even wrote some songs for the movie with Gaga. Nelson and Promise of the Real gave a rousing performance at June’s Three Rivers Arts Festival. See our concert review. Now he will be joining his papa, Willie, on the Outlaw Festival Tour. 2:30 p.m.  KeyBank Pavilion, 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (RH)

Lukas Nelson jamming on his guitar. (Photo: Rick Handler).

Lukas Nelson jamming on his guitar. (Photo: Rick Handler).

PITTSBURGH IRISH FESTIVAL— Sept. 7-9, Riverplex at Sandcastle

The Pittsburgh Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums unit in action.

The Pittsburgh Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums unit in action at the Pittsburgh Irish Festival. (Photo: Rick Handler)

2) Two rules of Irishness: (1) You do not have to be Irish to enjoy Irish things. (2) You might be more Irish than you think. This year’s Pittsburgh Irish Festival is billed as the city’s “28th Annual Celtic Celebration”—and since scholars say the ancient Celts populated lands from Austria to Portugal, this takes in everybody from Sigmund Freud to Cristiano Ronaldo. They’d both have a blast at the Festival. Irish and Irish-ish musical acts perform constantly through the weekend. Headliners from out of town include Gaelic Storm (who trace their Irish roots to Santa Monica, California), traditional Irish folk band Doolin’ (from France), and the all-female Celtic rockers Screaming Orphans (actually from Ireland). Also on tap are local favorites like Na Gaels, Devilish Merry, Cahal Dunne,  plus at least three pipe bands (there is no such thing as too much bagpipes), and many more. In addition to music and dancing, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival has storytelling, arts and crafts, experts on Irish/Celtic culture and genealogy, etc., along with Irish foods, Irish whiskey, stout, and mead. The Festival is Irishness writ as large as it can be writ. Come one, come all. 4-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Riverplex at Sandcastle, 1000 Sandcastle Dr., West Homestead. (MV)  

3) The 49th annual A Fair in the Park opens today in Shadyside’s Mellon Park. Promoted as a contemporary fine crafts and arts show and sale, it includes performances, concerts, food, and children’s activities. The Fair is presented by the Craftsmen’s Guild of Pittsburgh and Citiparks. Today’s musical highlights include several concerts by performers from Calliope, Pittsburgh’s Folk Music Society. Fair hours are 1 – 7 p.m. Free. Continues through Sunday. Fifth and Shady Aves., Shadyside/Point Breeze.