This month there aren’t many mega-acts, neither rock, pop, or country, but what we do have are indie-poppers, some great singer-songwriters, and two guitar virtuosos. Our poppers this month include rising star Elle King, whose “Ex’s & Oh’s” saw some good chart action last year; The Dandy Warhols, who always garner a lot of radio play; a Welsh group, The Joy Formidable; and enthusiastic performers Ra Ra Riot.
On the singer-songwriter front, how could you ask for anyone better than Greg Allman, who put the Allman Brothers on the shelf last year, but is still creating new music and touring. And holding her own is Jewel, a formidable singing and guitar-playing force. If it’s killer electric guitar performances you’re after, than look no further than Joe Satriani, performing at Carnegie of Homestead, and Robin Trower, who will be jamming at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg. Other highlights this month include a blues rock band from Timbuktu, Songhoy Blues; Belinda Carlisle, a former Go-Go’s member; The B-52s; the Kiefer Sutherland Band (that’s right, the actor is now a rocker); and Donna the Buffalo. A new class is being inducted into the Pittsburgh Rock ‘N Roll Legends hall of fame and there’s a big celebration for it. This month there’s more flavors than Baskin-Robbins, so head out and hear a lick or two.
Friday, April 1
Puscifer is the one-man project of Maynard James Keenan (aka MJK), who is perhaps better known as the vocalist for metal acts Tool and A Perfect Circle. As with those groups, the music of Puscifer lands heavy on the ear, though sprinklings of electronics, and vocals from Carina Round add moments of unsettling calm and serenity. Keenan is the band’s consistent member, with the rest of the line-up varying with each release and tour. Fans of the cult sketch comedy series Mr. Show, starring Bob Odenkirk (“Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul”) and David Cross (“Arrested Development”), will remember that Puscifer began as a fictional band on the HBO series. Now the group is very much a part of reality, with three studio albums and multiple remix albums and EPs under their belt. Last year’s Money Shot is the newest and is also the one the group is currently touring, including a stop at Stage AE. Luchafer opens. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)
Saturday, April 2
The Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra with Hubert Laws is in concert at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild as part of the MCG Jazz series. The 10-piece ensemble is led by Sean Jones, artistic director and Mike Tomaro, associate director, The goal of the orchestra—which features many of the top names in the Pittsburgh jazz scene—is to bring together both established and newer musical talent to celebrate the past and present of the city’s jazz heritage. The collaboration with flutist Hubert Laws, an NEA Jazz Master, will feature both new compositions and new arrangements. Tickets for the 6 p.m. show are already sold out, but a few may still be available for the 8:30 p.m. show. 1815 Metropolitan St., Manchester. (RH)
Monday, April 4
Last December, Elle King brought her sultry vocals to the third annual O Starry Night concert. The event, which took place at the Pete, celebrated a particular type of celestial body—the pop star—and included four musicians, including a headlining performance by Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas. Elle King opened the show but performed only seven songs. A shame, as her single “Ex’s & Oh’s” was already a genre-crossing success across 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. King is also a talented guitar and banjo player, and her songs draw as much from bluegrass as they do from indie rock. Pittsburgh didn’t have to wait too long for a proper King concert. Fans lucky enough to have tickets can see her headline a sold-out show at Mr. Smalls. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)
Italian songstress Giada Valenti has sprung onto the American music scene in part due to a concert special on PBS last year. Born and raised in Venice, she started singing and playing the piano at the age of seven and would later go on to earn a degree in music from the Tartini Institute in Trieste. Valenti fires on all cylinders with a good voice, charismatic personality, and classic Italian beauty. She’s able to sing and speak in five languages, and her songbook contains American and Italian hits from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, as well as recent contemporary songs. The beautiful dresses she wears in concert are all custom-made for her in Venice. Valenti will be performing From Venice With Love at the Byham Theater. 7:30 p.m. 101 6th St., Cultural District. (RH)
Tuesday, April 5
Legendary musician and leader of the recently retired Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman, is in concert at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. The Allman Brothers were early pioneers in the Southern rock genre of the 1970s. Gregg Allman will be performing his own songs plus some of the band’s rich catalog of top hits, which include “Jessica,” “Sweet Melissa,” “Blue Sky,” “Rambling Man,” and “Midnight Rider.”
Allman has continued to remain relevant with high-quality blues/rock music throughout the years and has charted in each decade. An accomplished pianist, organist, guitarist, singer, and songwriter, he crafts each song and performance with a little bit of his soul. He has been through a lot and has continued to rise to higher levels of music and spirituality. His brother Duane was tragically killed in a 1971 motorcycle accident when he swerved to avoid hitting a truck that had pulled out onto the road. Gregg Allman was married to Cher for a short period in the ’70s. He is now working on a new album at the noted FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, owned by Rick Hall. 8 p.m. Opening artist is Gabriel Kelly. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. SOLD OUT (RH)
The boy band O-Town had as its genesis the ’00 reality TV show “Making the Band,” which aired on ABC and then MTV for three seasons. The first year, on ABC, showed the choosing and making of the band under the guidance of music producer Lou Pearlman. The following two seasons on MTV were without Pearlman and showed the band practicing, recording, and performing music on tour. Pearlman—who also organized the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync—was convicted in ’08 of running a Ponzi scheme and money laundering. He’s now serving a lengthy jail sentence. O-Town has overcome many obstacles to produce a nice melodic pop sound, which you can hear in tonight’s show at The Altar Bar. “Liquid Dreams,” their first single, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Singles chart, and the song “All or Nothing” reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 Chart in ’01.
Most of the band members reunited in ’13 after ten years apart and are now performing as a quartet. O-Town’s most recent album is 2014’s Lines & Circles, with its hit single “Skydive.” They have a new single just out titled “Chasin’ After You.” The O in O-Town is for Orlando, Florida, although none of the band members is from there—this may have been a corporate marketing decision. Jordan York and Aubree Nicole open. 8 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. (RH)
Wednesday, April 6
In the late 1970s, on the L.A. punk rock scene, there appeared a young woman calling herself Dottie Danger. These days she’s a gracefully aging pop diva who credits her still-youthful looks and energy to clean living, not surgery and stimulants, and she’s back to being just Belinda Carlisle. The singer’s rise to fame began in 1978 when she teamed with friends to form an all-girl band. That group, The Go-Go’s, transitioned from punk to a new wave/power pop sound and topped the charts with their ’81 album The Beauty and the Beat. After the band disbanded in ’85, Carlisle went on to forge an impressive solo career—seven studio albums (with another coming soon), plus side ventures ranging from acting gigs to charity work. Meanwhile The Go-Go’s have become the band that wouldn’t die, re-uniting repeatedly with Carlisle to reprise their top hits such as “Our Lips Are Sealed.” Carlisle is bringing her own backup band for a concert at The Palace Theatre, and to study up for it you can read her 2010 autobiography: It’s titled Lips Unsealed. 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (MV)
Saturday, April 9
And the prize for best name of a band visiting Pittsburgh in April goes to … Between the Buried and Me. The group hails from Raleigh, North Carolina, which is actually between Chapel Hill and Rocky Mount. But these boys are known for progressive, spiritually inspired metal with death-metal overtones, and thus the name, which evokes both mortality and salvation. Formed in 2000 by lead vocalist Tommy Giles Rogers, Jr. and guitarist Paul Waggoner—both formerly of the now-defunct straightedge metalcore band Prayer for Cleansing—Between the Buried and Me has toured extensively and recorded prolifically. The quintet’s latest album, last year’s Coma Ecliptic, shot to #1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock, Top Rock, and Tastemaker charts. Currently the cool Carolinians are touring with Christian metal faves August Burns Red, and the two bands are co-headliners for a concert at Stage AE, with Good Tiger opening. Doors at 5:30. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (MV)
Contrary to what some may think, Son Lux is no relation to Sun Ra, although they do have a few things in common. Son Lux—born Ryan Lott—has followed the lead of the late, great jazz musician in adopting a two-syllable name that evokes transcendental cosmic light, and like Sun Ra he is known to make eerie electronic sounds. But whereas the jazzman has joined that big band in the sky, Son Lux is reported to be very much alive. The young singer/composer is bringing his post-rock, electronic chamber-pop sound to the Warhol Sound Series for a gig with his current trio mates, guitarist Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang. Son Lux has performed at venues ranging from Moogfest to SXSW to (believe it or not) Carnegie Hall in New York. He’s one of those artists who is not a household name unless your household is the arcane progressive type, in which case this concert might be just your cup of Saturday night tea. 8 p.m. Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Shore. (MV)
Sunday, April 10
Sometimes, all you need is some loud guitar and a steady drumbeat. That, plus the lush vocals of Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan, made for a winning formula on The Joy Formidable’s “Whirring.” That single was many Americans’ introduction to the Welsh rock ‘n’ roll trio. It appeared first on their debut EP, 2008’s A Balloon Called Moaning, and later on their debut studio album, 2011’s The Big Roar. Part of the song’s exposure also came via the comedy trio The Lonely Island, who sampled it on their song “YOLO.” The Joy Formidable have released two more albums since, most recently last month’s Hitch. Those hungry for more releases can sign up for Aruthrol. Launched in 2014, it’s the band’s spin on the idea of a vinyl club. Every month, fans receive a vinyl single. Side A features a song sung by the band in their native Welsh. Side B features another artist admired by the band. Pittsburghers looking for even more “Joy” in their lives can check out their concert at Mr. Smalls. Everything Everything opens. 8:30 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)
Tuesday, April 12
Indie rock band Ra Ra Riot was formed by students at Syracuse University ten years ago and the musicians known for their high energy performances. Such performances garnered them early acclaim and invitations to play festivals and tour—they made it to Iceland, Britain, and South by Southwest all within two years of starting. Ra Ra Riot has gained a loyal following with tunes like “Can You Tell” and “Dance With Me.” Their earlier work has been characterized as baroque pop, but in recent years the band has made the turn to more of a synthpop sound. Special guests are And The Kids and PWR BTTM. 8 p.m. Mr. Smalls Funhouse, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (RH)
Versatile rock guitarist Joe Satriani performs at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. Currently the lead guitarist of the super group Chickenfoot, Satriani is no stranger to working with big-name musicians. He was recruited by Mick Jagger to play on Jagger’s first solo tour, and has also performed with Deep Purple. Before he broke into the mainstream, Satriani worked as a guitar teacher, shaping the young minds of future rock stars like Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Andy Timmons (Danger Danger), and Steve Vai. Satriani is a 15-time Grammy nominee and is the biggest selling instrumental rock guitarist of all time. The accomplished musician is also playing new dates with Chickenfoot this year in addition to his solo tour. Satriani’s most recent album is last year’s Shockwave Supernova. 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. (RH)
So few people have been to Timbuktu that many believe it to be a mythical city, a made-up symbol of someplace impossibly remote. In fact, Timbuktu is a small but historic town on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, in Mali—and it’s where the musicians in the desert punk/blues band Songhoy Blues are from. Currently on world tour, they’ll be at the Andy Warhol Museum as part of the Warhol Sound Series. Their sound ranges from a sly, spooky blues to flat-out rocking (as in the songs from this NPR Tiny Desk Concert), and they’re the second group from their region of Mali to visit The Warhol, following the Tuareg rockers Tinariwen who came in 2014. Whereas Tinariwen wowed the crowd with virtuoso guitar-and-drum riffs and rhythmic, chanted vocals, Songhoy Blues brings a swingier, often more exuberant style to the stage. The show is in the museum’s entrance gallery, not the auditorium, so wear your dancing shoes to step into a hot night at the House of Andy. 8 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., North Shore. (MV)
Wednesday, April 13
Living Colour added a dose of thudding funk bass and articulate political awareness, particularly of black issues, to the otherwise white world of early ’80s punk rock. The band grew out of the Black Rock Coalition, which was made up of black musicians who enjoyed playing rock music. Living Colour’s 1988 single “Cult of Personality” turned an obscure sociology term into a sweaty hard-rock hit and garnered the group a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1990. They disbanded in the mid ’90s but reunited in ’00 to resume touring and create new music. Living Colour will release a new album later this year titled Shade. They will perform at Altar Bar. Opening are Kaleido, Ill Willis, and Byron Nash & PLAN B. 8 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. (EC, RH)
Engelbert Humperdinck, born Arnold George Dorsey in India, moved to England at the age of 10. He started performing professionally in his teens, with time off for a stint in the British Army. After a bout of tuberculosis and a struggling career, his manager suggested a name change to his current stage name which was co-opted from the German composer of the 19th-century opera Hansel and Gretel. The thought behind the change was that someone with such a different name would be a secure, well-adjusted person. Both The Carpenters and Jimi Hendrix opened for Humperdinck on tour. In ’67 his hit song “Release Me” kept The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever”/”Penny Lane” from occupying the no. 1 chart position in the U.K. Humperdinck often laughed about how Elvis got the idea of long sideburns and leather jumpsuits from him. His fans call themselves Humperdinckers. He’ll be at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall to sing his hits including “After the Lovin‘,” “Release Me,” and “The Last Waltz.” 8 p.m. 510 East 10th Ave. (RH)
Thursday, April 14
Murder by Death is occurring (performing) at Mr. Smalls Funhouse. This versatile, five-piece indie rock band from Bloomington, Indiana is fronted by lead singer Adam Turla, whose rich, deep voice—sometimes reminiscent of Johnny Cash—gives added dimension to the songs. The band is known for often producing concept albums revolving around such topics as the Devil and whiskey. A cello is often used on their songs for a goth rock feel. Murder By Death is touring in support of last year’s release on Bloodshot records, Big Dark Love. The band raised $278,486 in presale for the album on the Kickstarter website. Also on the bill is Kevin Devine & the Goddamn Band. 9 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (RH)
Friday, April 15
There are many buffalo references in music—e.g. the former band Grant Lee Buffalo, the song “Buffalo Stance” by Neneh Cherry, and Ted Nugent’s “The Great White Buffalo.” Another interesting buffalo is Donna the Buffalo, a band that plays across the musical genres of folk, rock, country, bluegrass, and zydeco, and hails from the Finger Lakes region of New York. The songwriting heart of the band is composed of Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins, both of whom perform vocals and are multi-instrumentalists. They even have a “Funky Side.” Donna the Buffalo is one of the founding/host bands for the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance and additionally the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival. Followers of the band are known collectively as “The Herd.” The band got its name when the musicians mis-heard a friend suggesting the name Dawn of the Buffalo. 8 p.m. The Rex Theater, 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. (RH)
Monday, April 18
Dave Stephens provides the screams; Kyle Pavone, the singing. So goes the one-two punch of We Came as Romans’ vocalists. Beginning with the band’s third studio album, 2013’s Tracing Back Roots, Stephens started to display his more melodic side, like on the single “Hope.” That shift toward melody continued with the group’s most recent release, 2015’s self-titled album. Still, We Came as Romans are, at their center, a post-hardcore band, one in which the guitars sprint and the drums thrash. The sextet originated in Troy, Michigan, a suburb just north of Detroit, in 2005. They began playing the Motor City’s clubs and have since toured nearly every corner of the globe, including appearances on the Vans Warped Tour. This month they play Altar Bar. Miss May I, Wilson, and Sworn In open. 7 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. (CM)
The Dandy Warhols know what they like. The quartet’s name is a nod to this area’s most famous pop artist. Sonically and vocally, “(Tony, This Song Is Called) Lou Weed” sounds like it could have been composed and sung by the late rock contrarian Lou Reed himself. Welcome to the Monkey House, the band’s fourth studio album and a commercial breakthrough, takes its title from a Kurt Vonnegut short story and book. The cover from that album is also a half-peeled banana, harking to the Velvet Underground’s debut. On the Dandy Warhols’ newest release, this year’s Distortland, there’s a song called “Catcher in the Rye.” All of this goes to say, if you also like these influences, the band’s concert at Mr. Smalls may be for you. Need more convincing? The group opened for the late David Bowie on his last tour. They are also co-subjects, along with contemporaries the Brian Jonestown Massacre, of the rock documentary Dig!, essential viewing for those looking for a real-life This Is Spinal Tap. Seratones open. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)
Wednesday, April 20
Kiefer Sutherland began his acting career with such ‘80s films as Stand by Me and the cult classic The Lost Boys. Beginning in 2001, he became synonymous with his character, Agent Jack Bauer, on the Fox drama “24.” Sutherland has other talents as well. He is a successful roper, that is, a cowboy who is adroit with a lasso. In 2002, he started Ironworks, an independent record label. Sutherland was more a behind-the-scenes music guy until he decided to record an album of originals. That record, Down in a Hole, won’t be out until this summer, but fans can catch a sneak peek of the tunes this spring. With the Kiefer Sutherland Band, he’s been previewing the new songs as well as the occasional cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” He plays a heavy guitar and projects a barking vocal. Pittsburgh fans of Sutherland, “24,” or rock ‘n’ roll can seek his tour stop at the Hard Rock Cafe. 8 p.m. 230 W. Station Square Dr., South Side. (CM)
Friday, April 22
You probably know the hits—“Rock Lobster,” “Love Shack,” and “Roam”—the beehive hairstyles, too. You may also know that the B-52’s emerged from the vibrant Athens, Georgia, music scene alongside contemporaries R.E.M. But their story, like so many other bands, is one of perseverance. The group began as a quintet in 1976 but nearly fell apart in 1985 after the death of guitarist Ricky Wilson from complications related to AIDS. His bouncy guitar licks are what propelled those early hits, particularly “Rock Lobster.” The band soldiered on as a quartet and rebounded in 1989 with Cosmic Thing, a comeback album which includes “Love Shack” and some lesser remembered, but equally irresistible singles, like “The Deadbeat Club.” Vocalist Cindy Wilson, Ricky’s younger sister, left three years later. Now a trio, the B-52’s released Good Stuff in 1992, but 16 years would pass before another studio album, 2008’s Funplex. A semi-trio again—Cindy Wilson long ago returned but multi-instrumentalist Keith Strickland no longer tours—the B-52’s are set to bring their party jams to the Palace Theatre. 8 p.m. 21 West Otterman St., Greensburg. (CM)
Thursday, April 28
The new class of 2016 inductees for the Pittsburgh Rock ‘N Roll Legends Awards was announced earlier this year. The new members are: Joe Grushecky, Billy Price, promoter Pat DiCesare, The Skyliners, and longtime WDVE-FM DJ Sean McDowell. The Pittsburgh All-Star Band will provide a musical backdrop for the evening, with members including Donnie Iris, Rick Witkowski, Hermie Granati, Ed Manion, and others. The evening also includes special tribute performances by The Clarks and Pure Gold. 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. Stage AE, 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (RH)
Jewel, one of America’s finest singer/songwriters, has—like her family—led an adventurous life. Her grandfather fled Switzerland to escape the Nazi movement, moved to the U.S. Territory of Alaska and like other homesteaders was granted 600 acres. Jewel was raised in the Alaska wilderness with no running water or heat (the family did have a coal stove to fight off the frigid Alaska weather), and would ride her horses under the midnight sun. Jewel started performing with her father as a musical duo at the tender young age of 8. She got a partial scholarship to Interlochen, a fine arts preprofessional boarding school in Michigan, where she studied operatic voice and learned to play the guitar. She raised $11,000 for the school by performing a show in a high school auditorium in her hometown of Homer, Alaska. Local businesses donated prizes to be auctioned off at the show. During spring break one year, she didn’t have anywhere to go, so she busked her way across the country by train with a guitar and a song. Then she hitchhiked to Cabo San Lucas with a large skinning knife for protection concealed in her belt. She wrote lyrics about things she saw while traveling, resulting in the song “Who Will Save Your Soul.” Jewel has maintained a semi-nomadic lifestyle (concert touring) over the years which has brought her to Pittsburgh this month.
Jewel has been nominated for Grammys several times and has sold over 27 million albums. She was married to legendary bull rider Ty Murray, but is now divorced. She played June Carter Cash in the ’12 Lifetime network movie Ring of Fire, and also has authored eight books. Her songs include “You Were Meant for Me” and “Standing Still.” Will Hoge opens. 8 p.m. Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall (RH)
Saturday, April 30
British rock guitar virtuoso Robin Trower is in concert tonight at the Palace Theatre. Trower was a member of the legendary group Procol Harum from 1967-71 before starting his own band. He even teamed up with former Cream bassist Jack Bruce for two albums—one called BLT , their initials plus drummer Bill Lordan—in the early ’80s. “The 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 latest release, ’15’s Something’s About to Change. 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)
Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central and loves great music.
Christopher Maggio and Mike Vargo also love great music and were major contributors to this preview.