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April Concert Guide 2018: Pink, Buddy Guy, Margo Price, and X Ambassadors

X Ambassadors. Photo: Abby Gillardi and Wikipedia.

X Ambassadors. Photo: Abby Gillardi and Wikipedia.

This month in our Concert Guide there are interesting shows across a wide spectrum of genres. Chances are whatever type of music you enjoy you’ll find a concert in our guide that features it. Here are a few examples of several interesting subcategories:

Pop/Rock/Vocalist/Aerialist: Pink

Pop Singer Who Won All Four Major Grammy Awards in One Night: Christoper Cross

80’s Pop/Rocker Who Got Rolled and Has Had a Good Comeback: Rick Astley

“Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” Music: An Evening with the Musical Compositions of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Ukulele Pop/Rocker: Jake Shimabukuro

Rock Musicians Who Dress as Ancient Egyptian Mummies: Here Comes the Mummies.

Guitar Gods: Buddy Guy, Robin Trower

These are some of the more interesting subcategories, but there’s plenty of good concerts by national acts and hometown heroes so please read on…

 

Entertainment Central Spotlighted Concerts

Monday, April 2

Only one artist has won all four of the General Field Grammy Awards in one ceremony: Christopher Cross. Those awards are Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist. He won the first two for “Sailing” and the third for his eponymous debut album, which was released in 1979. Cross added an Oscar to all those Grammys when he won Best Original Song in 1982. The song, which he co-wrote and performed, was “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do).” It appeared in 1981’s Arthur starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. The tune also appeared as a bonus track on the CD and cassette versions of Cross’s sophomore album, 1983’s Another Page. Cross has continued to record and release music, most recently 2017’s Take Me As I Am. The album cover, like most of Cross’s releases, features a flamingo. Cross, who is from San Antonio, Texas, plays Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (CM)

It’s the 13th Anniversary for B-PEP Jazz, the Black Political Empowerment Project’s celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month. The event, which will be held at Bridges at Wyndham University Center in Oakland, features host bands Roger Humphries & the R H Factor and The Tim Stevens Project. There will also be an amazing amount of guest jazz artists performing, including Kenny Blake, Etta Cox, Poogie Bell, Harold Betters, Al Dowe, Kevin Howard, Keith Stebler, Hill Jordan, and the Afro American Music Institute Youth Jazz Ensemble. There’s even guest emcees. Chris Moore, Bill Hillgrove, Bob Pompeani, Andrew Stockey, Debbie Norrell, Chuck Leavens, and Bob Studebaker are some of those who will be doing the announcing. And to top off the jazz lovers’ nirvana, J.T. Thomas, a Steeler Super Bowl champion, is the honorary chairman. 5:30 p.m. 100 Lytton Ave. (RH)

Thursday, April 5

British rock guitar virtuoso Robin Trower is in concert this month at the Palace Theatre. Trower was a member of the legendary group Procol Harum from 1967 to 1971 before starting his own band. He even worked with former Cream bassist Jack Bruce for two albums—one called BLT, their initials plus drummer Bill Lordan—in the early ’80s. “Bridge of Sighs” is a proper display of his guitar-playing prowess and was one of the most famous songs (and albums) of his solo career. Other top songs include “Day of the Eagle” and “Too Rolling Stoned.” Trower’s guitar of choice is his own signature custom Fender Stratocaster. He is touring in support of his 22nd studio album, 2017’s Time and Emotion. 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Friday, April 6

We’d say he’s back, but he never really left. Country music great and six-time-Grammy-Award winner Ronnie Milsap is still touring, and he’s making a stop at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg. It was almost impossible to be a country fan in the ’70s and ’80s and not hear Milsap on the radio. Famous for his crossovers with varying musical genres, the singer/pianist fuses aspects of rock and roll, R&B, and soul with classic country for a sound that is uniquely his own. Although his radio airtime may have diminished through the years, the 75-year-old hasn’t slowed his career. He’s released three studio albums this decade, most recently 2016’s Gospel Greats. In 2014, his 21 RCA albums were re-released, many appearing for the first time on CD. Northern Comfort opens. 7:30 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (EC, CM)

Former Povertyneck Hillbilly Chris Higbee is widely known as one of the best fiddle-playing frontman since Charlie Daniels. Higbee has been going it alone since 2008. (The rest of the Hillbillies formed The Hillbilly Way in 2012.) But Higbee has proven that he has the chutzpah to pull off a solo act, releasing his self-titled solo debut album in 2013 and touring nationally. Since then, he has released two additional recordings. The pride, and former farm boy, of Dawson, Pennsylvania performs at the The Lamp Theatre. 8 p.m. 222 Main St., Irwin. (RH)

Saturday, April 7

Whereas some of her pop contemporaries have faded, P!nk continues to record and tour and plays the PPG Paints Arena this month. Born Alecia Beth Moore, she became famous with songs like “There You Go” from her debut album, 2000’s Can’t Take Me Home. Her appearance on “Lady Marmalade” in 2001 further propelled her career as did “Get the Party Started,” also released that year. She began the new decade strong with “Raise Your Glass.” It first appeared on 2010’s Greatest Hits… So Far!!! Although nearly all artists tack on new tracks to greatest hits records, “Raise Your Glass” became a bona fide hit, reaching No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Her latest album is 2017’s Beautiful Trauma. Opening is Bleachers, a project of Jack Antonoff. Even if you don’t know Antonoff’s name, you’ve heard his music (or at least his production). He is a member of fun., and he’s co-written and produced songs for artists such as Taylor Swift, Lorde, and P!nk. Kid Cut also opens. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (CM)

Tuesday, April 10

It started with a YouTube video, a cover of The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” OK, it started a little earlier than that. Jake Shimabukuro started playing the ukulele when he was four and was already well-known in Hawaii and Japan for his instrumental prowess by the early 2000s. But it wasn’t until 2006 when someone posted that video, one of the first to go viral, that Shimabukuro’s popularity skyrocketed. He’s released numerous albums since, collaborated with musicians like Yo-Yo Ma and Jimmy Buffett, and toured the world. His cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” also remains a fan favorite. As for that video, it’s still racking up views—15 million and counting. His albums are a mix of island and abroad, originals and covers. His latest release is 2016’s Nashville Sessions. See him live at The Oaks Theater. 8 p.m. 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. (CM)

Thursday, April 12

A band that dresses in a slightly different way—in bandages—is Here Come the Mummies. The group’s background has been described by the band as follows: “It’s been a long and dusty road since 1922 when, at a dig in the desert south of Tunis, Professor Nigel Quentin Fontenelle Dumblucke IV (1895-1973) unearthed the ruins of an ancient discotheque to find a dozen undead Egyptian mummies inexplicably throwing down what he dubbed, ‘Terrifying Funk From Beyond the Grave.'” Individual Mummies have names like Mummy Cass, The Flu, KW TuT, Spazzy Mummy, B.B. Queen, and Eddie Mummy. The band is actually 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 album is 2016’s A Blessing and a Curse. 8 p.m. Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (MV, CM)

Saturday, April 14

It’s a double masters class in indie with The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill at Mr. Smalls Theatre. Both bands rose to prominence in the ’90s: the Afghan Whigs from Cincinnati, Ohio, and Built to Spill from Boise, Idaho. The former band combined rock and soul and scored a hit with “Debonair.” The single, from 1993’s Gentlemen, charted on the Modern Rock Top 20. The band broke up in 2001, briefly reunited in 2006 for a greatest hits album, and reunited again in 2012. Their latest release is 2017’s In Spades. Built to Spill never had a hit, per se, but albums such as 1997’s Perfect from Now On and 1999’s Keep It Like a Secret are indie-rock cornerstones. Their latest is 2015’s Untethered Moon. Both bands have seen members come and go, more so Built to Spill, whose sole core member is Doug Martsch. Each band has seen its share of tragedy too. Afghan Whigs guitarist Dave Rosser died in 2017, and former Built to Spill drummer Andy Capps died in 2006. Rituals of Mine open. 7:30 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Sunday, April 15

They Might Be Giants started in 1982 with two guys named John, who lived in Brooklyn and recorded energetic rock songs with zany lyrics (like this one). The next 30 years or so breaks down like this: 20 studio albums, the big crossover radio hit (“Birdhouse in Your Soul”), themes for shows like “Malcolm in the Middle,” a new generation of young fans following a slew of children’s albums, Grammys, and platinum sales. Whew! 2018 offers little in the way of a breather. The duo released a new album, I Like Fun, which features contributions from the group’s live lineup. The lineup is also touring, including a stop at Mr. Smalls Theatre, immortalized by none other than They Might Be Giants (with a shout-out to defunct Pittsburgh music venue Electric Banana). Although they have performed kids’ shows in the past to promote their children’s albums, this concert will be 14 and over. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Tuesday, April 17  

Musical scores for television, film, and even commercials are often overlooked, yet they are integral parts of the success or failure of the content material. Case in point is WQED’s “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The children’s (and many adults’) public broadcasting series, which continues on air to this day, featured some amazing music. Virtuoso jazz piano player and arranger, Johnny Costa, was the show’s musical director. Costa played the music live for each program until his death in 1996. Now fellow “Mr. Rogers’” team member Joe Negri (Handyman Negri), a very talented jazz guitarist, is part of a concert paying tribute to the wonderful music Rogers and Costa created for the show. Jevon Rushton is the artist director and one of two drummers for the event. Also performing for An Evening with the Musical Compositions of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood are Carolyn Perteete (vocals), Kenny Peagler (piano), Paul Thompson (bass), Sean Jones (trumpet), and James Johnson (drums). It is part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s BNY Mellon JazzLive series. This February marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark television program. 8 p.m. August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (RH)

Thursday, April 19

No joke, Rick Astley is coming to Mr. Smalls Theatre. Astley is an English singer who is best known for “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The single reached number one in the UK, US, and 23 other countries in 1987. It appeared on his debut album, 1987’s Whenever You Need Somebody. It snagged the BPI (now BRIT) award for Best British Single in 1988. More singles and albums followed, but after a shift from dance-pop to adult contemporary, Astley retired from the music business at 27. He returned in 2001 with Keep It Turned On, but it wasn’t until 2007 that Astley found a new generation of fans thanks to rickrolling, the prank of tricking online users into clicking a link and having it redirect to the music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The prank arguably reached its zenith when he pulled it at the Macy’s Day Parade in 2008 (at least the man has a sense of humor). His latest album is 2016’s 50. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Friday, April 20

Kim Richey, a singer/songwriter originally from Zanesville, Ohio, creates beautiful songs with interesting, heartfelt lyrics and melodies. Another sign of her songwriting talents is that top musicians have recorded their own versions of her songs, including Trisha Yearwood and Brooks & Dunn. She has also sang vocal tracks for some of the top acts in the country. Richey does indeed have strong Nashville connections, having recorded the majority of her early albums for labels headquartered there. Her latest release, Edgeland, went on sale in March. Richey has also written with her opening act for this show, Bill Deasy.

Bill Deasy’s early musical career began as a singer/songwriter with his group Shiloh. After Shiloh broke up, Deasy teamed up with Dave Brown to form The Gathering Field. They became a ’90s-era regional favorite with their hit song “Lost in America.” The members of The Gathering Field went their separate ways in 2002 and reunite occasionally.  Since then, Deasy has released multiple albums; collaborated on songs with others, like Kim Richey, Martina McBride, and Howard Jones; opened for Springsteen and Dylan; and his “Good Things Are Happening” was a theme song for “Good Morning America.” He’s also published three novels—his first, 2006’s Ransom Seaborn, is being adapted for the screen. Deasy and former Gathering Field bandmate, Dave Brown, released a record in 2017 titled Glory Bound. 7 p.m. Club Cafe, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (RH)

Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21

Southern rock finds its way north with the Outlaws. For over 40 years, the band has been thriving in the Southern rock genre along with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, and The Allman Brothers (now permanently disbanded with the death of Gregg Allman). Founded in Tampa, Fla., in ’72, the Outlaws put forth a Southern rock opus with “Green Grass and High Tides” and scored a major hit with “There Goes Another Love Song.” Outlaw trademarks include beautiful vocal harmonies and intricate lead guitar play. Surviving the test of time, the inevitable evolution of popular music, and bandmates’ deaths, the Outlaws are definitely alive, kicking, and, it would seem, stronger than ever. And now with Lynyrd Skynyrd on their farewell tour, the Outlaws will proudly carry forward the southern rock banner. The Lamp Theatre. 8 p.m. 222 Main St., Irwin. (RH)

Saturday, April 21

X Ambassadors started in Ithaca, New York, but Virginia gave them their first break. Imagine Dragons’ frontman Dan Reynolds heard X Ambassadors’ “Unconsolable” on a local radio station while at a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. He helped the band get signed to Imagine Dragons’ label, Interscope. Members of Imagine Dragons played on cuts like “Fear” and “Low Life” from X Ambassadors’ sophomore album (and major label debut), 2015’s VHS. Lead guitarist Noah Feldshuh is on indefinite hiatus, but the band is continuing as a trio. Their third album, Joyful, is available for preorder. They’ve shared the stage with not only Imagine Dragons but also The Lumineers and Panic! at the Disco. Pittsburgh isn’t foreign territory for these genre-bending, narrative-rendering ambassadors. In 2015, the group opened for Canadian electro-pop singer Lights at Mr. Smalls and later played XFest at Stage AE. This month, they headline Stage AE. Son Little and The Aces open. Doors open 6:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Tuesday, April 24

Buddy Guy is ranked 30th in Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Guy has influenced other great guitarists on that list, including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He is one of the most successful artists in the Chicago Blues style and was a member of the legendary Muddy Waters’s band. Guy frequently teamed up with noted late harmonica player Junior Wells. Two of Guy’s top songs are “Stone Crazy” and “Cut You Loose.” Guy has won seven Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 by B.B. King and Eric Clapton. His most recent release is 2015’s Born to Play Guitar. Wow, talk about an accurate album title! 7:45 p.m. Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Buddy Guy performing in Toronto, Canada in 2005. Photo: Jean-Luc Ourlin.

Buddy Guy performing in Toronto, Canada in 2005. Photo: Jean-Luc Ourlin.

Friday, April 27

Third Man Records released Margo Price’s debut album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter. Rock god Jack White founded Third Man, and if White Stripes fans checked out Price because her album was tangentially connected to him, they continued to listen because of her and her alone. Just over a month after her debut’s release, she crushed it on “Saturday Night Live,” where she proclaimed, “I put a hurtin’ on the bottle … but that don’t touch the pain you put on me.” Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton no doubt would approve. The album’s title nods to her home in Aledo, Illinois. She moved to Nashville at 20 and was an active part of the city’s music scene before becoming an international star. Her latest album is 2017’s All American Made. She will perform at The Club at Stage AE. Aaron Lee Tasjan opens. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Margo Price in concert. Photo: Levi Manchak.

Margo Price in concert. Photo: Levi Manchak and Wikipedia.

Sunday, April 29

Dweezil Zappa brings his World Tour 2018: Choice Cuts! to the Rex Theater. “Choice cuts” refer to cuts by his father, the late Frank Zappa, and will include not only hits but also some of his father’s more avant garde numbers. Of course, all of the elder Zappa’s music was sort of avant garde. It began with 1966’s Freak Out!, the seminal debut by The Mothers of Invention, Frank Zappa’s band. More albums followed, such as 1970’s Weasels Ripped My Flesh and songs like “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” from 1974’s Apostrophe (’). Frank Zappa died in 1993 from prostate cancer. Dweezil is an accomplished musician himself with his own discography. He even released his first single, “My Mother Is a Space Cadet,” produced by Eddie Van Halen, at 12. His latest album is 2015’s Via Zammata. He and his talented band are sure to make his father’s songs come alive. 8 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. (CM)

Several Other Suggested Shows

Saturday, April 7

We have known Bill Murray as a very good comedic singer since his Nick the lounge singer act in the TV sketch comedy show “SCTV” and singing the Star Wars song on SNL. He even played the piano in the 1993 film Groundhog Day. Now though he is touring professionally as a singer with the world-reknowned cellist Jan Vogler and several other musicians billed as New Worlds. Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends. Murray sings and recites passages from noted literature. Should be an interesting evening. 8 p.m. Heinz Hall. 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (RH)

Friday, April 13

Neon Swing X-perience, who bill themselves as the “only band bold enough to jump, jive, and rock.” The band has done a great job of keeping alive the musical heritage of big bands of the ’30s and ’40s. Now they are celebrating a little history of their own. Neon Swing X-perience is not only marking their 20th anniversary but also hosting a CD-release party. The band also delves into rockabilly, hot jazz, horn rock, and blues. The musical experience starts at 9 p.m. Hard Rock Cafe, 230 W. Station Square Dr., Station Square. (EC, RH)

Saturday, April 14

Cattivo hosts Pittsburgh’s Indie Rockfest 3 with eight great local bands: Sun Hound, Bad Custer, Standard Broadcast, There You Are, BBGuns, Back Alley Sound, Essential Machine, and LoFi Delphi. 4 p.m. 146 44th St., Lawrenceville. (CM)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central. Christopher Maggio, a Pittsburgh- based writer and editor, made substantial contributions to this guide.