April ’19 Concert Guide: Cher, Chic, Maren Morris, Jeff Tweedy, Elle King, and Sugar Hill Gang

Cher performing in Washington during her show Classic Cher in 2017. (Photo: cdorobek and Wikipedia)

Cher performing in Washington during her show Classic Cher in 2017. (Photo: cdorobek and Wikipedia)

There is one big blockbuster act in Pittsburgh this month. She is so famous that she is known primarily by her first name—Cher. She holds court at PPG Paints arena. Chic, one of the top bands from the disco era, led by Nile Rodgers, opens.

A theme in this month’s Guide is a pleasant selection of country/roots rock/Americana music. Those bands performers include: Maren Morris, Jeff Tweedy, The Lone Bellow, Allman Betts Band, Son Volt, and Blues Traveler.

On a slightly wilder side we will see Elle King and The Eels in town this April. Sugar Hill Gang and Grandmaster Melle Mel bring their fun old school hip hop rap to Jergel’s. Rounding out our Spotlighted shows are Classic Rockers REO Speedwagon, Citizen Cope, and Less Than Jake.

On the local front Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers, Bill Deasy, Essential Machine, LoFi Delphi, Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, and Alba Flamenca are all in action. Plenty to see here, so get out and enjoy Pittsburgh concerts.

The Entertainment Central Concert Guide is made up of three sections: EC Spotlighted Concerts, Other Suggested Concerts, and On the Radar. Each section lists concerts in chronological order. Christopher Maggio (CM) also made substantial contributions to the Guide.

EC Spotlighted Concerts

Thursday, April 4

2018 was a prolific year for Jeff Tweedy. He published Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc. on Nov. 13, 2018. Warm, his first solo album of all original material, was released a week later. Tweedy will perform a sold-out solo show at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. The last time he played solo in Pittsburgh was at the 2014 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. Well, technically, he was performing with his son Spencer under their surname. “Tweedy,” as they were known, released an album later that year, Sukierae. But Jeff Tweedy is arguably best known as the frontman for Wilco. The band’s sound runs the gamut of alt-country to ambient-rock. Wilco’s latest album is 2016’s Schmilco. Tweedy also co-founded Uncle Tupelo. Additionally, his songwriting and production credits include 2017’s If All I Was Was Black by Mavis Staples. Buck Meek opens. 7:30 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. (CM)

Jeff Tweedy, frontman for the nationally known alt-rock band Wilco, plays a new song on opening night of the festival.

Jeff Tweedy, frontman for the nationally known alt-rock band Wilco, plays a new song on opening night of the 2014 Three Rivers Arts Festival. (photo: Martha Rial)

Saturday, April 6

Three harmonizing voices plus lush instrumentation equals The Lone Bellow. The indie-folk trio formed in Brooklyn, New York City, but is now based in Nashville. 2015’s Then Came the Morning, the group’s sophomore LP, saw production by Aaron Dessner (of The National) and brass and string arrangements by Bryce Dessner (also of The National). “Fake Roses,” with its vivid lyrics, remains a standout single from Then Came the Morning. The Lone Bellow opened for the Avett Brothers early in its career. The trio also shared the bill with Cold War Kids for the Feed More Festival at Stage AE in 2016. TV appearances include “Late Show with David Letterman” and “CBS This Morning.” Now the Lone Bellow is on an acoustic tour, including a stop at Mr. Smalls Theatre. The band members released an EP, The Restless, in 2018, and they released their third LP, Walk into a Storm, in 2017. Savannah Conley opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Monday, April 8

REO Speedwagon, first achieved big success with their 1978 album You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish, which contained “Roll with the Changes” and “Time for Me to Fly” bring their high treble rock sound to Greeensburg’s Palace Theater. Their ’80 release, Hi Infidelity, reached  No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and spawned four singles that went on to become major hits including “Keep On Loving You“ and “Take It On the Run.” The two mainstays of the band are Kevin Cronan (lead vocals and guitar) and founding member Neal Doughty (keyboards). An REO Speedwagon song was used last year on an episode of ABC’s popular sitcom “The Goldbergs.”  7:30 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St. (RH)

Wednesday, April 10

Some ingredients go very well together, like ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Another tasty combination is the Allman Betts Band. The group consists of sons of some of the players in the former Allman Brothers Band. This includes Devon Allman, Duane Betts, and Berry Oakley Jr. (son of original Allman Brothers Band bassist Berry Oakley). Other members are: Johnny Stachela (slide guitar) and Devon Allman Project percussionists R. Scott Bryan (Sheryl Crow), and John Lum. Devon Allman is the son of the late Gregg Allman and Shelly Jefts, while Duane is the son of a longtime Allman Brothers’ lead guitarist Dickey Betts and Paulette Howell. Duane was named after Allman Brothers’ band co-founder Duane Allman, who was a lead guitar virtuoso. On this tour they will be performing new music (they have an album slated for release this spring), songs from their solo projects, and classic Allman Brothers and Gregg Allman songs in honor of the 50th Anniversary of The Allman Brothers Band. The Borstall Boys open. 8 p.m. Jergel’s Rhytyhm Grille. (RH)

Friday, April 12

The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” was one of the first smash hit songs of the nascent rap/hip hop genre when it was released in August of 1979. “Now, what you hear is not a test I’m rappin’ to the beat /And me, the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet.” is one of the early verses from the tune. The rap track interpolated Chic’s “Good Times.” Chic threatened to sue and got proper credit and compensation from the group. “Rappers Delight” was the first rap single to become a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Sugar Hill Gang originally was composed of 3 members all from Englewood, New Jersey,  Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright, Henry “Big Bank Hank” Jackson, and Guy “Master Gee” O’Brien. After their initial success the group had hits in Europe, but no more in the U.S. Wonder Mike, Hendogg, and Master Gee are remaining members who tour as the Sugar Hill Gang. Also on the bill is Grandmaster Melle Mel & Scorpio Furious 5.They are also top performers from the early years of hip hop. Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (RH)

If you want to relive ska punk’s glory days of the late ’90s, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Mr. Smalls with Less Than Jake. Combining the distinctive beats of punk with the horns and saxophones of ska, Less Than Jake hit the mainstream in 2003 with the album Anthem. The band has toured with Bon Jovi, The Warped Tour, and Bad Religion. We can hope to hear their famed “She’s Gonna Break Soon” as well as old and new favorites. Less Than Jake has a new EP out right now called Sound the Alarm. Openers are Mest, Punchline, and Kali Masi.7 p.m. Sold out. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvalle. (EC/RH)

Monday, April 15

Clarence Greenwood, a.k.a. Citizen Cope, is a one-man musical juicing machine. The Washington, D.C.-based singer/songwriter takes an assortment of styles—soul, funk, rock, hip-hop, and occasional folk and blues—and blends them together, and the mixture is always as a fine and silky as a smoothie. Cope has a new album out, Heroin and Helicopters. One dollar of every Citizen Cope ticket purchased will go towards the Mimi Wood Foundation For Arts and Business. 8 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District. (EC, RH)

Thursday, April 18

Fresh off her 2018 Kennedy Center Honors prize, Cher will perform at PPG Paints Arena. Her other awards put her a Tony short of an EGOT with an Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar in her trophy case. She also has three Golden Globe Awards. But it’s not awards that make Cher into a mononymous legend. It’s a career that began in the ’60s with the late Sonny Bono and their multi-platinum hit “I Got You Babe.” (The couple was married but divorced in 1975, the same year that Cher married the late Gregg Allman, whom she also divorced.) Her television work includes The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, and her film work includes Moonstruck, which garnered her a Best Actress Oscar. She’s charted many solo songs, including “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe,” the latter of which pioneered the use of Auto-Tune. Off stage, she’s fought for LGBTQ rights and HIV/AIDS prevention.

And as if this bill weren’t already incredible, Nile Rodgers and Chic open. Chic had many top songs that pulled people onto the discotheque dance floors, including “Good Times,” “Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love,” and “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah).” Rodgers co-founded Chic with bassist Bernard Edwards, who passed to that great disco in the sky in 1996. Besides touring with Chic, Rodgers has worked on many a pop hit in the 21st century, including “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (RH, CM)

Thursday, April 25

Country singer/songwriter Maren Morris has enjoyed much success since her father bought her an acoustic guitar as a young girl growing up in Arlington, Texas. She had several small label album releases and wrote songs for recording artists including Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson. In 2015 her self-released and self-titled EP was a major success on Spotify and led to a contract with Columbia Nashville. Since then Morris has released two LP’s, 2017’s Hero and 2019’s Girl. Both albums generated hit songs such as “My Church,” “The Bones,” and “Girl.” She also did a fantastic collaboration with Zedd, and Grey on the song “The Middle.” The song was nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at this February’s Grammy Awards. Marren herself is already the recipient of a Grammy, CMA, and Billboard Music Award. She has been nominated for those awards and others over 50 times. Morris is playing Stage AE on her Girl: The World Tour. Another Texas country singer, RaeLynn, a semifinalist of Season Two of NBC’s “The Voice,” is also on the bill. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr, North Shore. (RH)

Maren Morris at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017. (photo: Wikipedia and Prbtsubedi12345)

Maren Morris at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017. (photo: Wikipedia and Prbtsubedi12345)

Saturday, April 27

Elle King’s “Ex’s & Oh’s” was a genre-crossing success on many of Billboard’s charts: adult top 40, alternative, and rock. That single abounds as much with hooks as it does double entendres, and it appears on her similarly infectious debut, 2015’s Love Stuff. She was soon known for her sultry vocals, sharp lyrics, and outlaw image. Her Pittsburgh performances included an appearance at the third annual O Starry Night concert at the Petersen Events Center. The event celebrated a particular type of celestial body—the pop star—and included a headlining performance by Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas. King followed up Love Stuff with her sophomore album, Shake the Spirit, in 2018. She is also a talented guitar and banjo player, and her songs draw as much from bluegrass as they do from indie rock. Tunes such as “Wild Love” incorporate electronic music too. She will perform at Stage AE. Barns Courtney opens. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

John Popper, who is known equally for his harmonic prowess and harmonic bandoliers, leads Blues Traveler. The band, which started its journey in Princeton, New Jersey in 1987, touches on blues, folk, psychedelic, and southern rock. The group’s top hits are “Run-Around” and “Hook,” both of which appear on 1994’s four, its fourth (and breakthrough) album. Founding member and bassist Bobby Sheehan died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, but the rest of the band continued to honor their friend and bandmate. Popper and company continue to release music. 2015’s Blow Up the Moon was a collaborative effort with every track featuring other artists, like Plain White T’s on the song “Nikkia’s Prom.” Blues Traveler’s latest album is 2018’s Hurry Up & Hang Around. They also tour regularly, and live performances of songs often transform into jams. Their latest tour takes them to the Rivers Casino. 8 p.m. 777 Casino Dr., North Shore. (EC, CM)

What the heck are Eels? “Before I sputter out” ring any bells? If you’re thinking, oh, right, one of many  ’90s one-hit wonders, you’re right … to a point. First, the single is titled “Novocaine for the Soul” from their debut album, 1996’s Beautiful Freak. And yes, the song shimmers with that pop sheen that coated seemingly every alternative rock song released in the second half of the ’90s. But Eels are more of an indie-rock band who, yes, had one big hit but offer so much more, including 12 studio albums to their name. (A personal favorite is the slick “Souljacker Part I.”) The sole constant member (and primary singer/songwriter) is a man who goes by the mysterious moniker “E.” Eels formed in 1995 in Los Angeles, California. Their latest album is 2018’s The Deconstruction. Eels will perform at Mr. Smalls Theatre. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Tuesday, April 30

Alt-country band Son Volt is led by former Uncle Tupelo’s frontman Jay Farrar. When they first formed in 1994, half the band was from Minneapolis and the other half was from St. Louis, so they used both cities as an initial base of operation. Their first album, 1995’s Trace, was on many Best Album lists for 1995. The band has released nine albums and is currently touring in support of its new release, Union. Special guest is Ian Noe. 8 p.m. Mr. Smalls Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.

Other Suggested Concerts

Wednesday, April 3

Let There Be Cello. That’s the title of 2Cellos’s newest album and current tour, which takes them to PPG Paints Arena. The Croatian cellist duo puts a classical spin on pop and rock standards, such as “Thunderstruck by AC/DC, and also composes originals. The duo’s debut LP was its 2011 self-titled album. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (CM)

Friday, April 5

Two Pittsburgh indie bands will each release new music at the Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. Essential Machine has a new album, Wildfires, and LoFi Delphi has a new single, “Gold.” Past quality tunes are “The Outsider” by Essential Machine and “Birds” by LoFi Delphi. Both bands performed at Indie Rockfest 3 last year at Cattivo. Bad Custer and Morgan Erina open. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Saturday, April 6

Pittsburgh rock royalty Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers have remained a constant on the Pittsburgh music scene as the city morphed from steel mills to high-tech foundry. Grushecky is a consummate singer/songwriter. Grushecky and The Houserockers in 2018 released a new, first-rate album, More Yesterdays than Tomorrows. There are many hot tracks on the release. 9 p.m. Portogallo’s Peppers N’at, 28 Braddock Ave, Braddock. (RH)

Sunday, April 7

Versatile singer/songwriter/producer and guitar virtuoso Adrian Belew is playing the Rex Theater. Belew rose to fame as the guitarist and front man for the prog-rock group King Crimson. Other great gigs for him were as a touring guitarist for David Bowie, Frank Zappa, and Nine Inch Nails. You can see his prowess while performing the song “E.” Catch this legend in action on the South Side. Opening the show is Saul Zonana. 7 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St. (RH)

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers perform at Moondog’s. Castro’s vast guitar experience and his sultry voice, backed by his perfectly rhythmic band, combine to present a marriage of blues and rock in its most raw form.  They make it look easy, and they make it look fun, as demonstrated in songs like “Greedy” and “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down.” 2019’s Killin’ It Live is their latest release. 7 p.m. 378 Freeport Rd., Blawnox. (RH, CM)

Cher may have pioneered Auto-Tune, but T-Pain became synonymous with it. His debut single, 2005’s “I’m Sprung,” charted at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Florida rapper’s newest album is 2019’s 1UP. I’m on a Boat” with the Lonely Island from “Saturday Night Live” is a classic. He will host and perform at Foxtail. 8 p.m. 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. (CM)

Wednesday, April 10

German-born Igor Yuzov founded Igor & Red Elvises in 1995, after the ghost of Elvis Presley came in a dream to tell him to start a rock ’n roll band. No, really. That’s what Yuzov says happened. He did as he was told, and the band began banging out their own special blend of self-branded “Siberian Surf Rock” on the streets of Santa Monica. They soon drew such large crowds that they were actually declared a public nuisance and banned from playing in public. Lucky for you, they’ve been booking shows around the world in some pretty legit concert venues ever since. They’re in Pittsburgh at the Hard Rock Cafe with special guests Vertigo-Go and The Honey Tone Ramblers. 8 p.m. 230 W. Station Square Dr., South Side. (EC, RH)

Saturday, April 13

Appalachian bluegrass band Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers will perform at the Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. Poison River, which was released in 2018, is the group’s latest. The album’s closer, “When the Redbud Blooms,” is perfect for springtime. The band has played the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival, WYEP’s Alternative Souper Bowl, and Market Square on Earth Day. Tyler Westcott opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Sunday, April 14

Jon Anderson is the co-founder and the original lead singer for the prog rock band Yes. The group has had dormant periods, breakups, and reunions. There are two versions of Yes currently, Andersen is in Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman. 1000 Hands: Chapter One is Anderson’s just released new album which he began 28 years ago. The album title is a reference to the numerous guest musicians who performed on the album, including: Ian Anderson, Billy Cobham, Jean Luc Ponty, Chick Corea, Zap Momma, Chris Squire, Alan White, Steve Howe, and others. He visits Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall under his own banner and will be performing both new solo songs like “Ramalama” and classic Yes songs. 7:30 p.m. Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, 510 E. 10th St., Munhall. (RH)

Tuesday, April 16

Squirrel Nut Zippers, which formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, released their first studio album in 18 years, Beasts of Burgundy, in 2018. The reunion continues with a concert at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. Singer-songwriter Andrew Bird has collaborated with them on previous albums. “Ghost of Stephen Foster” is a fun tribute to a Pittsburgh native. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (CM)

Friday, April 19

A band that dresses in a slightly different way—in bandages—is Here Come the Mummies. Individual mummies have names like Mummy Cass, The Flu, K.W. Tut, Spaz, and Eddie Mummy. Songs include “King of the Underworld” and “Late Night Booty Call.” The band is a group of very talented musicians from Nashville who formed in 2000 and are said to hide their identities to avoid problems with the record companies that they are under contract to. No word on whether they are sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. Their latest LP is 2016’s A Blessing and a Curse. Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers open. 8 p.m. The Rex Theater, 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. (MV, CM)

Bill Deasy was already a name on the local music scene when he and a few locals got together for a jam session in a Grove City apartment. Those guys, and him, became The Gathering Field, a ’90s-era regional favorite. Since then, Deasy has stacked up a résumé that would help him “make it” in a place like New York or L.A. He’s had a contract with Atlantic Records, opened for Springsteen and Dylan, and his “Good Things Are Happening” was a theme song for a “Good Morning America” video. Yet he’s remained rooted in Pittsburgh. He and his band will be performing at The Oaks Theater. 8 p.m. 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont.(RH)

Saturday, April 20

Earl Dibbles Jr., the alter-ego of country music recording artist Granger Smith, has a saying: “The higher the truck, the closer to God.” Smith, a Texas A&M grad, has been on the country scene for over 20 years and has performed at the White House and for our troops overseas. His album Dirt Road Driveway contains the fun party song “We Do It in a Field.” His latest album is 2018’s They Were There, A Hero’s Documentary, a soundtrack to the film of the same name. The film, which Smith made, chronicles Gold Star families. Catch “both” Smith and Dibbles at Stage AE. Smithfield opens. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (EC, CM)

Fans of Flamenco music and dance rejoice! There is a big annual event that features both, Fiesta Flamenca. This fun event will be held at East Liberty’s Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and is hosted by Flamenco Pittsburgh, whose dancers will be performing. Also performing is the talented musical group Alba Flamenca. There will be food and a cash bar available. 7 p.m. 5941 Penn Ave. (RH)

Friday, April 26

Picture This is a rock band that’s been selling out multiple venues in its home country of Ireland. The quartet has also released two albums in the past two years, 2017’s Picture This and 2019’s Mdrn Lv. “Take My Hand” broke the band on Facebook and YouTube. Catch this rising act at the Club at Stage AE. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Everclear’s singles, such as “Santa Monica,” “Father of Mine,” and “Wonderful,” were arguably some of the best rock songs from the latter half of the ’90s and early ’00s. Frontman Art Alexakis recently announced that he was diagnosed with RRMS, a form of multiple sclerosis, three years ago. He has continued to tour with Everclear, and the band stops at the Meadows Casino. Alexakis will then embark on a solo tour in support of his first solo album, Sun Songs. 8 p.m. 210 Racetrack Rd., Washington. (CM)

Sunday, April 28

The Fifth Dimension is a highly successful pop vocal group that rode a wave of success in the  1960’s and ‘70s. Their top hits included: “Up Up and Away,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “California Soul,” and “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All.“ They made a No. 1 hit out of a song from the musical Hair, “Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures).” Founding members were Billy Davis Jr., Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Lamonte McLemore, and Ronald Townson. The only original member remaining in the group is LaRue. 3 p.m. The Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Monday, April 29

Black Veil Brides may be based in Hollywood, but frontman Andy Biersack hasn’t forgotten the band’s Cincinnati origins. As Andy Black, he will release a new solo album, The Ghost of Ohio, by the time of his show at Mr. Smalls Theatre. The music video for the title track features scenes from Cincy. Opening is the Faim, a pop-rock band from Australia. The group released its debut EP, Summer is a Curse, in 2018. The album saw some stellar co-writers, including Ashton Irwin, who co-wrote the title track. Irwin is also from Down Under and plays drums in the Aussie band 5 Seconds of Summer. Kulick also opens. 7:30 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Tuesday, April 30

No, it’s not a David Lynch marathon. It’s an indie-rock band from Chicago: Twin Peaks. New to the group? The members already have a singles album thanks to an ambitious undertaking they completed two years ago. They released two new songs every month starting July 2017 through December 2017. The album is titled Sweet ’17 Singles Series, and it includes “Tossing Tears.” They play the Club at Stage AE. Post Animal opens. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

On the Radar

Thursday, May 2
Television (Mr. Smalls)

Friday, May 3 and Saturday May 4
Eric Church (PPG Paints Arena)

Saturday, May 4
The Ohio Players (Rivers Casino)

Tuesday, May 7 and Wednesday, May 8
The Mountain Goats (Mr. Smalls)

Tuesday, May 7
Strand of Oaks (Club Cafe)

Wednesday, May 8
Tom Morello (The Rex Theater, Sold Out)

Friday, May 10
The Tallest Man on Earth (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall)

Saturday, May 11
Eddie Money (The Meadows)

Tuesday, May 14
Whitesnake (The Palace

Thursday, May 16
MGMT (Stage AE)

Friday, May 17
Jefferson Starship (Jergel’s)
38 Special (The Meadows)
Jeffrey Osborne (Rivers Casino

Saturday, May 18
Garth Brooks (Heinz Field)
The Outlaws (Jergel’s)
The Spinners (The Meadows)

Sunday, May 26
Hozier (Benedum Center)

Thursday, May 30
The Who (PPG Paints Arena)
Women Who Rock feat. Sheila E. (Stage AE)

Friday, May 31
Outlaws & Renegades Tour
Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Cadillac Three (Stage AE)
Jackie Evancho (Byham)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.