Winter Jam Tour Spectacular at PPG Paints Arena; Club Cafe Hosts Sweet Earth; Off the Wall Has ‘Grist from the Mill’ (Fri., 1/17/20)

1) Once a single concert in 1995, now the largest Christian music tour in the country, Winter Jam Tour Spectacular is stopping at PPG Paints Arena. The tour features Christian rock and rap artists. There’s too many to list them all, but here’s a sampling: Crowder, who was a part of previous tours, now headlines. He performs folktronica, and his latest LP, his third, is 2018’s I Know a Ghost. A regular at the Grand Ole Opry, he’s won three GMA (Gospel Music Association) Dove Awards and has been a multi-Grammy nominee. Andy Mineo will perform too. He’s a frequent collaborator with fellow Christian rapper Lecrae; the two co-headlined a show at Mr. Smalls Theatre in 2018. Also on the bill are Building 429, Austin French, Hillsong Young & Free, and RED. Zane Black, the founder of Lovin’ Life, a Christian youth outreach organization, will speak. NewSong, Winter Jam’s founders, will also perform. NewSong, from Valdosta, Georgia, have been nominated for 12 GMA Dove Awards, and they have been making music since 1981. 7 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (CM)

2) Sweet Earth, a local prog-rock power trio, will headline a late show at Club Cafe. The band was based in Los Angeles, where it recorded and released a self-titled LP in 2014, but the members have since returned home much to their longtime fans’ appreciation. They pride themselves on being a power trio that uses no samples or loops. Just guitar, bass, drums. Who is playing what can be anyone’s guess as the band members will sometimes switch instruments. Such antics are sure to keep the audience on its toes. The trio has played festivals as close as Johnstown’s Flood City and as far as Arizona’s Gem and Jam. They’ve also shared a bill with the likes of Papadosio and The Werks. Squaring the Circle opens. 10:30 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (CM)

3) If you are not yet a Lissa Brennan fan, try catching the fiery Pittsburgh-based theater artist in an original solo show. Brennan’s Grist from the Mill is a planned storytelling trilogy that will bear no resemblance to the Star Wars franchise. Grist from the Mill kicks off this month with a piece subtitled 1902. It tells of dark events at a steel mill where 196 men died in work-related accidents during that year—and one died otherwise. Brennan says her trilogy was inspired, in part, by the Irish folk songs called murder ballads (of which this is an example). She performs the 1902 installment of Grist from the Mill at Carnegie Stage. 8 p.m. 25 W. Main St., Carnegie. (MV)

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Rick Handler

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