Spirited Funk-Rock Group Robert Randolph and the Family Band at Jergels; MCG Jazz Hosts David Sanborn (Thurs., 11/19/15)
1) Although not necessarily ignored by radio programmers, Robert Randolph and the Family Band have built their fan base night after night through killer live shows, a la the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers. Their concerts have all the spitfire of a tent revival. The band encourages—even demands—audience participation, enticing people into singing along, even occasionally pausing the music to give dance instructions. Leader Randolph is known for his fiery skills on the steel guitar, an instrument played sitting down, but he’ll rise up, kicking over his chair as he does. With their roof-raising brand of soul, funk, and rock, the New Jersey-born band is set to acquire a few more admirers tonight at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. Their most recent album was 2013’s Likety Split. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale.
2) There’s nothing like a jazz saxophone and there are connoisseurs who say nobody blows it better than David Sanborn. That’s why his upcoming concert in the MCG Jazz series is already sold out, which means you’ll have to try the resale and wait-list markets or find a friend who can take you along. A six-time Grammy winner, Sanborn plays at the high end, favoring the alto sax and sometimes pushing it to about as alto as it can go. He also enjoys tunes from all over the genre map, so his shows typically include a good bit of crossover and fusion material. Sanborn has played with nearly every big name you can name; he was a regular guest on “The Late Show With David Letterman” and the latest of his 24 albums, this year’s Time and the River, features numbers on the smooth-jazz side. Two shows, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, 1815 Metropolitan St., Manchester. (MV)
3) August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson portrays a “lesson” that has nothing to do with keyboard technique. A woman living in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in the 1930s is keeper of the family’s heirloom piano, which is also a symbol of emergence from slavery—it once belonged to the Southerners who owned her ancestors. The woman’s brother wants to sell the piano to buy and farm the land where those ancestors once worked as slaves. A complex struggle develops over the piano, and it’s really the reflection of a more important struggle: the search for ways to deal with the past and build a future. The Piano Lesson won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. 8 p.m. Performance through Sunday. Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company—in association with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust—performs the play at the August Wilson Center, 930 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (MV)