April Concert Guide: A Door, A Mason, Chainsmokers, and Good Jovi

Alex Pall (l.) and Andrew Taggart (r.) of the The Chainsmokers creating electrifying music.

Alex Pall (l.) and Andrew Taggart (r.) of the The Chainsmokers creating electrifying music at the 2016 Thrival Music Festival. photo: Rick Handler.

Several notable acts will be hitting the ‘Burgh this month including The Chainsmokers, Robby Krieger, Dave Mason, Paul Shaffer, and Bon Jovi. The Chainsmokers, who played the Thrival Music Festival last September, won the Best Dance Recording Grammy Award with Pittsburgh native Daya for “Don’t Let Me Down.” The Doors’ Robby Krieger brings his powerful guitar licks to Greensburg’s Palace Theatre. Also playing the Palace is English rocker Dave Mason, a friend of the late Jimi Hendrix and a former member of the rock band Traffic. Paul Shaffer, who was in the “Saturday Night Live” band and was the musical director for David Letterman’s late night talk shows, is also in town this month. Bon Jovi, a Pittsburgh favorite, will perform at the PPG Paints Arena.

Hometown heroes include the new inductees into Pittsburgh Rock N’ Roll Legends status: Tommy James and the Shondells, The Jaggerz, Jerry Reed (industry professional), and Chuck Brinkman (broadcaster). Also jamming in their hometown are Reb Beach (Winger), Rusted Root, Spinning Jenny, Frank Vieira, and The Me Toos.

This month’s mix should please almost anyone’s tastes with a wide range of acts including: Average White Band, The Decemberists, Killswitch Engage, Son Volt, of Montreal, Jukebox the Ghost, The Psychedelic Furs, and more. Get out and see one of our concert picks or one of your faves.

Click videos to play.

Saturday, April 1

World music royalty (and hometown faves) Rusted Root headline Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. If you’re an older fan, you may know them from their legendary shows at the late Metropol. If you’re younger, you may know them and their 1994 single “Send Me on My Way” from the Matilda or Ice Age soundtracks. Rusted Root formed in Pittsburgh in 1990. 1994’s When I Woke, their second album and major-label debut, went platinum. They have continued to tour and record music, never forgetting their loyal homebase. And that base hasn’t forgotten them. During their last concert here, Mayor Bill Peduto took to Stage AE to proclaim November 20, 2016 Rusted Root Day. The band will be playing multiple dates this spring and summer across the East Coast and Midwest, including festivals. 2012’s The Movement is their latest album. Nicholas David, a finalist on the third season of NBC’s “The Voice,” opens. 8 p.m. SOLD OUT. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (CM)

Seattle indie-rock band Minus the Bear is in the ‘burgh tonight for a concert at Mr. Smalls. The band features a power pop-driven sound with signature guitar work, harmonic vocals, a rhythmic beat, and some elements of electronica. Minus the Bear formed in 2001 and released their debut, Highly Refined Pirates, in 2002. Standout song titles included “Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!” and “Hey, Wanna Throw Up?” Their sophomore album, 2005’s Menos el Oso, crystallized their sound while maintaining their sense of humor. (It’s essentially a self-titled album albeit in Spanish.) Menos el Oso expanded their fanbase, and they re-released it on vinyl for its 10th anniversary. The band has released six LPs and six EPs. One EP, 2014’s Lost Loves, catalogues rare and unreleased songs, ones which didn’t quite fit on any of their other albums. Their latest LP is 2017’s Voids. Beach Slang and Bayonne open. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (EC/CM)

Sunday, April 2


Kevin Bacon has appeared in so many movies with so many other actors that some very creative individuals developed the Kevin Bacon Game in which they would see how many degrees of separation existed between Kevin Bacon and other actors. If one was looking to produce a musical version of that game, a good candidate would be Paul Shaffer. He was one of the lead musicians on “Saturday Night Live” from 1975 to 1980. Starting in 1982, he was the musical director for “Late Night with David Letterman” and its World’s Most Dangerous Band. After Letterman moved the show to CBS, Shaffer continued as the musical director, this time for the CBS Orchestra.

Shaffer has also been the musical director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies since it started in 1986 and led the band for the “We Are the World” finale of Live Aid. I would imagine there aren’t many degrees of separation between Shaffer and almost any musician! He will be appearing with The World’s Most Dangerous Band and vocalist Valerie Simpson (formerly of Ashford & Simpson) at The Palace Theatre. There is a meet and greet VIP ticket also available. This would bump you up to just two degrees of separation from many top musicians. 7:30 p.m. 21 West Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

The Courtneys are a Vancouver, British Columbia, trio whose sound harks back to ’90s alternative bands such as Pavement, Sleater-Kinney, and of course Hole. After releasing their 2013 self-titled debut on Vancouver-based label Hockey Dad Records, The Courtneys quickly spread their wings, touring much of the United States and Canada and opening for Tegan and Sara. The road also took The Courtneys to Australia and New Zealand. The latter country is home to Flying Nun Records, which is itself home to some of the trio’s favorite bands, such as The Clean. The music video for “Silver Velvet” pays homage to the video “Splat” by Bailter Space, also on Flying Nun. You can probably guess which label is releasing their sophomore LP, The Courtneys II. Pittsburgh fans need not book an international flight to see them. Simply bike, Uber, or take one’s favorite Port Authority bus line to Cattivo. Hearken and Side Eye open. 7 p.m. 146 44th St., Lawrenceville. (CM)

Monday, April 3

“Bruce Springsteen! Madonna! Way before Nirvana!” So begins the chorus to “1985,” and so explains how millions of listeners, many of them born well after the titular year, became nostalgic for the mid-’80s in 2004. Pop-punk group SR-71 may have written the song, but it was Bowling for Soup’s version that was all over the very same MTV that BFS frontman Jaret Reddick chides within the lyrics. The song also appears on 2004’s A Hangover You Don’t Deserve. For over 20 years, Reddick has performed some smart-as-a-whip hits, including “High School Never Ends” and “Girl All the Bad Guys Want.” When he’s not playing in BFS, he tours solo. He also plays in Love Händel, the fictional band featured on the Disney Channel animated series “Phineas and Ferb.” BFS’s latest album is 2016’s Drunk Dynasty, and they play the Rex Theater this month. Runaway Kids and Direct Hit open. 7:30 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. (CM)

Tuesday, April 4

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 latest release, Notes of Blue. Special guest is Anders Parker. 8 p.m. Mr. Smalls Funhouse 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (RH)

Wedensday, April 5

Rock legends Bon Jovi and Pittsburgh have always had a mutual love. There could be several reasons for this: the band plays great rock; they are from Jersey, and as we know Pittsburgh and Jersey (not Philadelphia) have a symbiotic relationship; and Bon Jovi also has footage of their ride across the Fort Pitt Bridge and the now demolished Civic Arena in their “Wanted Dead or Alive” video. A bonus reason is that the group has a good friendship with noted Pittsburgh rocker Norman Nardini. Original member Richie Sambora mysteriously departed the band in 2013 and has since been replaced on guitars and backing vocals by Phil X. Original members in the band are Tico Torres (drums), David Bryan (keyboards, backing vocals), and of course band namesake Jon Bon Jovi (lead vocals, rhythm guitar). Hugh McDonald, a member since ’94, joins them on bass guitar and backing vocals. Bon Jovi’s most recent album, This House Is Not for Sale, was released last November. It debuted at no.1 on the Billboard 200 and was Bon Jovi’s sixth no. 1 album in the U.S. The album was also their fourth in a row to hit No. 1. Grab some beers and rock out to classics like “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “It’s My Life” and their latest “This House is Not for Sale.” Opening is the Interlochen Singers. 7:30 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (RH)

Saturday, April 8

The Decemberists’ fourth album, The Crane Wife, turned 10 last year. “The Crane Wife 3,” a cut from the album, appeared on “Scrubs,” and the band performed it on the season six finale of “Parks and Recreation.” The Decemberists are touring this spring, promising to play songs from across their discography plus new ones. The Portland, Oregon, group amassed a gathering over the past decade with its indie, folk-rock sound, culminating in the number one album, 2011’s The King Is Dead. In that same year, the band collided auditory, literary, and televisual worlds with its music video for “Calamity Song.” The video, directed by “Parks and Recreation” co-creator Michael Schur, adapts a scene from David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest. 2015’s What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World is their latest album. Their concerts are known for audience participation, so be ready to contribute to their show at Stage AE. Julien Baker opens. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Sunday, April 9

The Killthrax Tour, a double billing of Killswitch Engage and Anthrax, descends upon Stage AE. Killswitch Engage are a metalcore band formed by members of Overcast and Aftershock in 1999. After original vocalist Jesse Leach left the band in 2002, Howard Jones (not the English musician) joined. Killswitch Engage released The End of Heartache in 2004. The eponymous song scored a Grammy nomination and was the theme to Resident Evil: Apocalypse. In 2012, Jones left and Leach returned. 2016’s Incarnate is the band’s latest album. Anthrax, who formed in New York City in 1981, have had even more lead vocalists. However, Joey Belladonna was part of the classic line-up. He was fired in 1992, returned and left again in the mid-’00s, and is back indefinitely. Their latest album is 2016’s For All Kings. The openers promise another one-two punch of metal: The Devil Wears Prada, a Christian melodic metalcore band named after a chick-lit novel, and Jasta, the frontman for Hatebreed. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (EC/CM)

Monday, April 10

When Delicate Steve opened for Tune-Yards at Mr. Smalls in 2012, they were already on track to headlining shows themselves. Delicate Steve’s debut, 2011’s Wondervisions, was an anomaly: an instrumental, indie-rock album popular among critics and cool kids alike. “The Ballad of Speck and Pebble,” a single from that album, was the exception to the no-vocals rule; however, the “lyrics” were more glossolalia than words, holy spoken tongue enmeshed in the sonic Sistine Chapel crafted by one Steve Marion. He’s the “delicate” Steve in question, the man behind the studio albums. Wondervisions and 2012’s Positive Force were released on Luaka Bop, a record label founded by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. Marion and his band, who also go by Delicate Steve, come to Club Cafe this month, touring behind Marion’s latest album, 2017’s This Is Steve. Grand Piano and Andre Costello and The Cool Minors open. 8 p.m. 56 S. 12th St. South Side. (CM)

Thursday, April 13

For the third time in three years, Jukebox the Ghost return to Mr. Smalls. Not much new to report about the trio, who formed in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area. They released an EP and a live album in 2016. The EP, titled Thump Sessions, is a six-song collection of acoustic versions of older songs. The album, Long Way Home, contains live cuts from throughout their tour earlier that year. (Listen closely. You might be able to hear yourself, provided they used a song from their last Smalls show.) Jukebox the Ghost have opened for Ben Folds, Motion City Soundtrack and, in 2010, made a coveted appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman.” In 2015, they performed “Postcard” on “Conan,” just one of over 150 performances they average annually. Their 2014 self-titled album is their latest studio LP. The Elwins open. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Friday, April 14

The Psychedelic Furs’ core consists of vocalist/songwriter Richard Butler and his bass-playing brother, Tim. The Furs have had major chart success with the songs “Love My Way,” “Pretty In Pink,” “Heaven,” and “The Ghost in You. The post-punk British rockers were MTV darlings during the ’80s and director John Hughes was inspired to create a movie around “Pretty in Pink.” “Guess what, I’ve spoken to Norm. We’re going to live in the trees” is the opening line of the popular song “We’re Gonna Live in the Trees” from singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock. Both as a solo artist and as a member of The Soft Boys, The Egyptians, and The Venus 3, Englishman Hitchcock—who plays the guitar, harmonica, piano, and bass guitar—has enjoyed just-under-the-radar success. Another song that showcases his talents is “Autumn Is Your Last Chance.” This is a great opportunity to see two talented British bands. 8 p.m. Mr. Smalls, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (RH)

Steel Panther struts in for a concert at Stage AE this month. With that name, you may think the band hails from Pitt, but it’s actually a heavy metal group from L.A. Steel Panther’s songs combine humor with R- to X-rated content—the “Community Property” video, above, is actually one of the less raunchy ones—while the band’s whole act, including big hair and over-the-top costumes, parodies the glam-metal bands of the 1980s. The Panther has just dropped its fourth major studio album, Lower the Bar. Opening for Steel Panther is Citizen Zero. Doors open at 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (RH)

Friday, April 21

The Doors were a band of mythic proportions, led by Jim Morrison, who was equal parts poetic rocker and rebel. Unfortunately, Morrison flew too high and too close to the sun. He died in 1971 like many deceased rockers of that time at the age of 27. Most passed from drug or alcohol abuse. With Morrison dying so young, it left the other members of The Doors in a quandary. They continued on for a while with every member contributing vocals until breaking up in 1973. There would be offshoots and reunions throughout the years. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek died in 2013. The Doors’ guitarist, Robby Krieger, is on tour now. He wrote or co-wrote many top Doors’ songs including “Light My Fire,” “Love Me Two Times,” and “Touch Me.” He plays many Doors’ songs in his concerts. Krieger is a highly talented guitar player and like the other Doors’ members is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Sister Christian” was one of Night Ranger’s biggest hits when it rose on the Billboard Hot 100 chart to No. 5 in June 1984. The San Francisco rock band has had many iterations over the years and is extremely popular in Japan. Night Ranger’s first five albums had worldwide sales of more than 10 million. They are touring in support of their latest album, Don’t Let Up, which features a classic Dodge Challenger on its cover with a large hood scoop and the words “Night Ranger” on its front license plate. Catch them on tour as they celebrate their 35th year together. 8 p.m. Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (RH)

It’s a testament to how far, geographically, country music has come that an Upstate New York guy like Frank Vieira is trying his hand at it. When Vieira (now headquartered in Pittsburgh) was coming of age, country acts were continually vying for the top of the Billboard album charts and any FM radio ranking. So it’s just as likely this star high school athlete in a frozen bit of the Northeast would dream of being the next Eric Church. He continues his march toward country music stardom with his latest release, Three Little Words. We love his southern accent. 8 p.m. No Cover. The Meadows Casino, 210 Racetrack Rd., Washington. (EC/RH)

Saturday, April 22

Dave Mason, a former member of the rock group Traffic, had his first big hit with the Traffic song “Feelin’ Alright,” which was later recorded by Joe Cocker. Mason, who was good friends with Jimi Hendrix when Hendrix was living in London, invited him to a party. That’s where Hendrix first heard Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Hendrix was so enthralled with the song that he and Mason went to a London studio that night and recorded it. Mason played the 12-string acoustic guitar on the song. That recording was placed on Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland album and became ingrained in rock history. Mason scored a major FM rock radio hit with “We Just Disagree” in the 1970s, on which he again used a 12-string acoustic guitar. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a founding member of Traffic in 2004. Mason and his band will be performing his hit album from 1970, Alone Together, along with other top songs from his catalog. 8 p.m. Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, 510 East 10th Ave., Munhall. (RH)

As the sun set on day one of the 2016 Thrival Music Festival, the crowd was ready to party; The Chainsmokers were ready to deliver. Members Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall took the stage to pyrotechnics. Streamers burst over the crowd. Now the duo returns to Pittsburgh, this time to play the PPG Paints Arena. Not bad for a group whose debut album, Memories…Do Not Open, isn’t even a month old. Prior to that debut, The Chainsmokers’ single “Closer,” which features singer-songwriter Halsey, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 2016. The duo also recorded “Don’t Let Me Down,” which features Mt. Lebanon native Daya. The single performed well commercially too, hitting No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 2016. It was The Chainsmokers’ and Daya’s first top five song on the Hot 100. The tune won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Kiiara and Emily Warren open. 7:30 p.m. 1001 5th Ave., Uptown. (CM)

Spinning Jenny are celebrating a CD release show at Diesel. The band, which consists of three sisters and their dad, is from Mingo Junction, Ohio, just down the Ohio River from Steubenville. Their YouTube channel features a range of covers (Twenty One Pilots, Whitney Houston) and some rockin’ originals, such as “Hey Jenny.” A similar balance between old and new can be enjoyed at their live shows. They have already released an LP, 2014’s Outside the Lines, and an EP, 2016’s Weightless. A family reunion was their first gig, and they soon began playing shows for the public. See them at Diesel this month or else wait until June when they begin a summer tour of the tri-state area. The Brighton Boys and The Semi-Super Villains open. 7 p.m. 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. (CM)

Sunday, April 23

Frank Iero has been keeping busy since he and his former bandmates dissolved My Chemical Romance in 2013. The rhythm guitarist has fronted two new bands: Leathermouth and Death Spells. In late 2012, while sick with digestive issues, Iero channeled his pain to create his first solo album, 2014’s Stomachaches. With the exception of drums, he played every instrument on the album and released it under the moniker “frnkiero andthe cellabration,” which later became the name of him and his band. They now go by Frank Iero and the Patience, and their new album, 2016’s Parachutes, contains all of My Chemical Romance’s punk and thrash minus the arena bombast, an equation which makes The Club at Stage AE a perfect venue for them. Dave Hause and The Mermaid open. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Tuesday, April 25

Average White Band is composed of very talented musicians and maybe should be called Above Average White Band or even Great White Band. Its success rises out of a funky beat, great vocals, and quite nice horn parts. The band formed in Dundee, Scotland, in 1972 and shot to fame on songs like the million-selling “Pick Up the Pieces,” “School Boy Crush,” “Cut the Cake,” and “A Love of Your Own.” Founding members Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre faithfully play the music with help from newer band members. AWB’s music is so well-loved and respected that other artists, including The Beastie Boys, Ice Cube, and Arrested Development, have utilized parts of AWB’s music. AWB is the 15th most sampled group ever. The group is appearing at the August Wilson Center as part of the Cultural Trust’s Soul Sessions. 8 p.m. 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (RH)

Frontman Kevin Barnes is the sole constant in of Montreal, a band with rotating members and a genre indefinable. He formed the group in 1996 in Athens, Georgia. They are part of the Elephant 6 Collective, which dates to 1991 and includes other great independent American bands, like Neutral Milk Hotel. of Montreal count a range of fans. Pittsburgh-based Girl Talk sampled “Gronlandic Edit,” off 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, on his masterpiece, Feed the Animals. El Pasado Es un Animal Grotesco, an experimental play by the Argentine writer Mariano Pensotti, translates into “The Past Is a Grotesque Animal,” the title of another track off Hissing Fauna … . of Montreal’s latest LP was 2016’s Innocence Reaches. An EP, Rune Husk, followed this year. Christina Schneider’s Jepeto Solution open their show at Mr. Smalls. Included with admission is “Strangeways,” a rock dance party hosted by DJs Jesley Snipes and the Comeback Kid. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Wednesday, April 26

Seems like we have a lot of bands visiting Pittsburgh that were big during the ’80s hard rock era. One of which are Winger, the New York City hard rock band known for hits like “Seventeen” and “Headed for a Heartbreak.” Right at home with their glam metal peers—Bon Jovi, Tesla, and Van Halen— these guys shred, screech, and combine to form a sound worthy of an arena. Presumably, not unlike the aforementioned Van Halen, Winger derives their name from the surname of the band’s founder, Kip Winger, who played with Alice Cooper before striking out on his own. Today Winger is composed of Winger, Reb Beach (of Whitesnake and from Pittsburgh), Rod Morgenstein, Paul Taylor, John Roth, and Donnie Wayne Smith. As is common for bands like Winger, their histories aren’t free of tumult—in 1994, as glam metal diminished in popularity and other musical forms took its place, Winger disbanded for about seven years. In 2001, however, the band reformed and has continued to rock on. Their latest release is 2014’s Better Days Comin’. Silk9 and Horus Maze open. 7 p.m. Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (EC, RH)

Thursday, April 27

The new class of 2017 inductees for the Pittsburgh Rock ‘N Roll Legends Awards was announced earlier this year. The new members are Tommy James and the Shondells, The Jaggerz, music industry professional Jerry Reed, and broadcaster Chuck Brinkman. The Pittsburgh All-Star Band will provide a musical backdrop for the evening. There will be an opportunity to see rock memorabilia and to bid on auction items. Benefits the Cancer Caring Center. Rock on! VIP 6 p.m. Regular admissions 7 p.m. Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (RH)

Friday, April 28

Richard “Kinky” Friedman has always been a renaissance man. After two years with the Peace Corps in Borneo, Indonesia, the Kinkster returned to his native Texas and became a country and western singer. He released his debut album, Sold American, in 1973, and in 1975 and 1976, he toured with Bob Dylan. His songs combine social commentary with satire; their titles are too outrageous to mention here. He started writing detective novels in the 1980s. In 2006, he ran for governor of Texas, placing fourth in a six-person race. He counts both President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush as friends. His home, Echo Hill Ranch, doubles as a shelter for abused, aging, and stray animals. He returned to music in 2015 with The Loneliest Man I Ever Met, his first proper studio album in nearly 40 years. The album is mostly covers. Willie Nelson joins Friedman on Nelson’s “Bloody Mary Morning.” Expect a new album soon; in the meantime, catch Kinky at Club Cafe. 7 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (CM)

Saturday, April 29

The Me Toos is a Pittsburgh-based group who feature a blues-based sound with accents of rock and roll, garage, and punk. Several bands that the group says have influenced them include: The Sonics, The Velvet Underground, Guided By Voices, and Ty Segall. The Me Toos formed in 2008 and have previously recorded three digital albums. They are set to drop their fourth, Ghost Fly By, with a release party at Spirit. Special guests are The Spectres and Vertigo Go. 10 a.m.  No cover. 242 51st St., Lawrenceville.

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central and loves good music. 

Christopher Maggio was a major contributor to this guide and enjoys his music too.

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