Pgh International Jazz Fest Starts; Keb Mo Plays Palace; ‘Titanic’ Sails at Lamp Theatre (Thurs., 6/20/19)

Thursday, June 20 to Sunday, June 23

1) The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival will be occurring in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District and features top-name entertainers and bands, including Patti LaBelle, War, Stanley Clarke, Tamara Tunie, Roger Humphries, Black Women Rock!, Sean Jones, and more.

Patti LaBelle had a mega hit with her group Labelle in 1974 when they released the dance song “Lady Marmalade.” The song even had some French lyrics worthy of the French Quarter. Labelle was the first African-American vocal group to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. Patti LaBelle scored another big hit in 1986 with the duet “On My Own,” which she sang with Michael McDonald. She is also a successful author, chef, TV host,  and food products entrepreneur.

“Spill the Wine,” “The World Is a Ghetto,” “The Cisco Kid,”and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” were all big hits for the soul-rock fusion jam band War. The band’s zenith was in the early ’70s when its album, The World Is a Ghetto, was the best selling LP of 1973. The group went through various lineup changes, leaving Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan as the last remaining original member.

Stanley Clarke, noted electric and acoustic bass player, has over his career won four Grammy Awards. He was also in the vanguard of the jazz fusion genre. The Philadelphia-born Clarke was in the jazz fusion group Return to Forever and has also done extensive work in creating music for TV and film. Clarke has performed with many top jazz musicians and even some rock and rollers, including Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones and Stewart Copeland of The Police.

Tamara Tunie, star of stage, screen, and TV, is also a talented singer. Tunie is a McKeesport native best known for her role as Medical Examiner Dr. Melinda Warner on the hit NBC series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” In addition to theater, Tunie studied classical voice at CMU. Tunie, a Tony and Drama Desk Award winner, has performed Legends from the ‘Burgh on tour and in New York City to large crowds and critics’ raves. She recently appeared in theatrical productions in Pittsburgh at The Public and City Theatre.

Roger Humphries is an accomplished solo artist in his own right and is also the leader of RH Factor. He has left a lasting legacy as a percussionist and as an educator. He’s taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, and elsewhere.

See the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival website for dates and times. 

2) Americana, blues, country, roots: Keb’ Mo’ excels in all of them. Born Kevin Moore, he released his first album under Keb’ Mo’ in 1994. Artists from B.B. King to the Zac Brown Band have recorded his songs. He co-wrote the Dixie Chicks’ “I Hope,” and he portrayed Robert Johnson in “Can’t You Hear the Wind Howl?,” a 1997 docu-drama about the late blues legend. His concert at the Palace Theatre comes on the heels of the June 14 release of his new album, Oklahoma, with the leadoff track, “I Remember You.” Jontavious Willis opens. 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (CM)

3) The musical Titanic swept the big three Tony Awards for 1997: Best Musical, Best Score (by Maury Yeston), and Best Book (by Peter Stone). Better yet, Titanic earns social-psychology credits by capturing details and ironies that have made the 1912 sinking of that ship an endless subject of grim fascination. Unlike James Cameron’s movie, built around a fictional romance, the stage musical focuses on historical facts. The RMS Titanic, the world’s largest ship at the time, was hailed as a miracle of human achievement—yet it was undone by human errors and misjudgments that could have been avoided. The drama is conveyed in musical numbers ranging from “What a Remarkable Age This Is” to “The Blame” and “The Foundering.” Split Stage Productions performs Titanic at The Lamp Theatre. 8 p.m. Runs through June 22. 222 Main St., Irwin. (MV)