The Rolling Stones Invade Pittsburgh Again: Legendary Drummer Ginger Baker Plays Jazz Fest (Sat., 6/20/15)

1) The Rolling Stones are in concert at Heinz Field, Saturday June 20 at 7 p.m. What more needs to be said? Unless you’re very young, very old, or an extraterrestrial, you’ve probably got a pretty good awareness of who The Stones are. But just in case, here’s some info about them. The Stones were a part of the British pop and rock invasion which started in the early 1960s. They are the yin to the Beatles’ yang. While the Beatles were seen as lovable guys with mop-top haircuts who created beautiful music, The Stones’ sound was a little rougher and the band members seemed a little dangerous.

Mick Jagger, The Stones lead vocalist and front man, was a contemporary of Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol. Warhol created the concept for the band’s Sticky Fingers album and the cover art for Love You Live. Like Warhol, Jagger is an astute businessman (having attended the prestigious London School of Economics) and has created multiple revenue streams for the band. Another Pittsburgh tie is that the Beatles made a decision not to come to the U.S. until they had a number one song here. The Stones made no such pledge and played the former West View Park’s Danceland on their first American tour in  1964. The audience was mid-sized and enthusiastic; they were just on their way to becoming famous. Other longtime band members are Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood. The Stones have one of the best song catalogs in rock history. Highlights include: “Gimme Shelter,” ” Beast of Burden,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker).” Opening act is Awolnation. 8 p.m. 100 Art Rooney Ave., North Shore.

2) After all these years Ginger Baker still plays drums the way he lives. On both counts, he’s incendiary. Baker—who brings his new group, Jazz Confusion, to the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival—was the percussive fire behind the 1960s rock supergroups Cream and Blind Faith. In the ‘70s he formed the jazz/fusion band Ginger Baker’s Air Force (featured above), then moved to Africa and teamed with Afrobeat great Fela Kuti. Ever since, Baker has been driving the beats amid star-studded lineups worldwide while elevating his famously irascible personality into an art form of its own. He’s a tough interview (e.g., when asked what it was like to do a Cream reunion concert: “What was it like?’ I played the drums, man!!”) And though he graciously cooperated with filming of the 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker, he did attack the director with a cane. At Pittsburgh JazzLive he’ll be wielding only drumsticks in what should be a memorable night. 9 p.m., August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District.

3) Shiloh Street is one of Pittsburgh’s hidden gems. There’re bars, ice cream, even a barber/tattoo shop. But if you go to the end of Shiloh (away from that great view from Mt. Washington) and turn right, you’ll find the first Uzbek halal restaurant in Pittsburgh, called Kavsar. Halal means that the restaurant uses foods that observant Muslims may eat under Islamic law. The Uzbek cuisine includes palov, a dish traditionally cooked by men. It’s made of beef, carrots and rice. The restaurant serves not only Uzbek but also Russian foods, such as borscht. Kavsar, like the new Nepali restaurants in the region, is helping to turn Pittsburgh into a United Nations of culinary delights. 16 Southern Ave., Mt. Washington.

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Rick Handler

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