August ’21 Concert Guide: James Taylor, Kiss, Jason Aldean, Green Day, and The Roots

Kiss is on their farewell tour and will be performing at the Pavilion at Star Lake this month. Pictured: Kiss at Hellfest in Clisson, France in 2013. (photo: Llann Wé and Wikipedia)

Kiss is on their farewell tour and will be performing at the Pavilion at Star Lake this month. Pictured: Kiss at Hellfest in Clisson, France in 2013. (photo: Llann Wé and Wikipedia)

Got to love August, a time of year when the peaches are at peak ripeness and full of flavor. The time is also ripe for concerts too, with many outdoor and free shows. To kick off this month we have the ever-popular Average White Band, quickly followed by two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers in James Taylor and Jackson Browne. Another classic singer-songwriter performing in August is Gordon Lightfoot. Classic R&B act The Spinners will be performing a free show as part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series at South Park. And what would summer be like without some friendly annual visitors—The Dave Matthews Band, they will be playing Pittsburgh once again this summer.

On the more alternative side we have Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer playing the Hella Mega Tour. Maroon 5, Modest Mouse, Cold War Kids, and The Spin Doctors round out that category. Philadelphia’s The Roots will be laying down some hot grooves. Rock Reggae Relief 2021 will be generating some cool reggae vibrations with Jason Miraz and The Wailers. Kiss is on its farewell tour and Jason Aldean brings some country twang to town.

On the hometown heroes front, hundreds of talented local performers and bands will be playing the Millvale Music Festival. A double shot of soul will also be happening when Bill Toms and Billy Price bring their bands to a big show.

Christopher Maggio (C.M.) made substantial contributions to this Concert Guide and Mike Vargo (M.V.) contributed too.

Concerts in the EC Spotlight

Sunday, August 1

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. AWB’s latest release is 2019’s compilation album, Gold. The group is appearing at Hartwood Acres as part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series. Opening is Slam Band and Sam. 7:30 p.m. 4070 Middle Road, Allison Park (R.H.)

Tuesday, August 3

James Taylor—one of the best soft rock and folk artists in American music since the late ’60s—continues to enthrall live audiences with his comforting songs, accomplished acoustic, guitar work, and melodic voice. Taylor’s first big hit was “Fire and Rain,” which reached no. 3 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1970. Many other successful songs followed, including “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Handy Man.” The man is a six-time Grammy Award-winner and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He often collaborated with Carole King, and they teamed up for the last concert ever held at the Civic Arena, which was a sellout.

Taylor is a champion who’s overcome many obstacles and continues to create and perform at a very high level. He was married to fellow singer Carly Simon for a time, and they have two children from the marriage. James Taylor and his All-Star Band play a show with Jackson Browne at Pittsburgh’s newer event palace, PPG Paints Arena. His latest, and 20th studio LP is 2020’s American Standard.  Let’s hope the tradition of Taylor performing concerts in Pittsburgh continues for a long time.

Running on Empty —the 1978 Jackson Browne album—spawned several hot singles including “The Load-Out,” “Stay,” and the title track “Running on Empty.” The album reached no. 3 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and stayed on the chart for 65 weeks, achieving platinum status, and was nominated in 1979 for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year (losing to Saturday Night Fever). Browne was also nominated that year for Pop Male Vocalist (losing to Barry Manilow, who had “Copacabana (At The Copa)” out during the same period). Other highly popular songs from the Jackson Browne songbook include “Doctor My Eyes,” “The Pretender,” and “Lawyers in Love.” Whether a soft ballad or uptempo rocker, Browne’s vocals and music always retain a melodic balance.

Browne was born in Germany, where his dad was stationed with the U.S. Armed Forces, then was raised in Los Angeles. He was a member of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for several years and even co-wrote the song “Take it Easy” with Eagles band member Glenn Frey. Both Browne and the Eagles released the song, with the latter achieving greater popularity. Browne has performed with top recording artists too numerous to list. At the 2016 Grammy Awards ceremony, he joined the remaining Eagles for a rendition of “Take It Easy” as a tribute to Glenn Frey, who had just passed away. His latest release is Downhill from Everywhere, released this year. Browne is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A concert with Taylor and Browne is a great opportunity to see two highly talented American singer-songwriters. 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (R.H.)

Thursday, August 5

There’s a wonderful double shot of Pittsburgh Blues rock this month, both literally and figuratively. Bill Toms and Billy Price will both be brining their considerable musical talents to Jergel’s this month. Both will be performing with their respective bands, Toms with Hard Rain and the Soulville Horns; and Price with the Billy Price Band. Toms, in addition to favorites from his catalog, will be performing songs from his exceptional new album, Keep Movin’ On” (see our story). Price, who a couple years moved to the Baltimore, Maryland area, makes a return to the city that helped put him on the map as a consummate blues and soul singer. Price’s latest album is 2018’s Dog Eat Dog. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale.

Friday, August 6

The Spinners, a male vocal and dance group who originated in the suburbs of Detroit, enjoyed considerable success in the ’70s with top 10 hits including “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love,” “The Rubber Band Man,” (If they were from Pittsburgh it would be “The Gum Band Man”) and “I’ll Be Around.” In ’74, they teamed up with Dionne Warwick to produce the number one smash hit “Then Came You.” During the 1960s The Spinners were with Motown before switching to the Atlantic label in the ’70s. The Spinners still tour regularly and have one original Spinner remaining—Henry Fambrough, who has been in the band since its formation in 1954. That’s a lot of R&B. The group will soon be releasing a new album, Round the Block and Back Again. The beat goes on in a show at South Park Amphitheater. Special guest is sax man extraordinaire Kenny Blake. 7:30 p.m. 3700 Farmshow Drive, South Park Township. (M.V.)

Bob Dylan once said of listening to a Gordon Lightfoot song, “I wish it would last forever.” The man widely thought of as America’s greatest songwriter was paying homage to the man who is almost universally acknowledged as Canada’s best. Lightfoot is credited as a major influence in the folk-pop sound of the ’60s and ’70s. He’s had multiple singles cracking the top five on the US charts, one of his most memorable being The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,”a memorial to a freighter that went down in Lake Superior in 1975. Another is 1970’s “If You Could read My Mind” which reached No. 5 on the U.S. Charts. Loved by the public and fellow musicians alike, his songs have been covered by everyone from Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to Sarah McLachlan and Toby Keith. His latest album is Solo, released last year. Lightfoot will be at The Palace Theatre for an 8 p.m. show. 21 West Otterman St., Greensburg. (R.H.)

Friday, August 6 and Saturday, August 7

The Millvale Music Festival returns after the pandemic postponed all music festivals last year. This free, two-day event spotlights local musicians, comedians, spoken-word artists, and visual artists at multiple indoor and outdoor venues in Millvale—a residential, riverside borough with an eclectic business district. The venues include bars, craft breweries, restaurants, street stages, the community center, the community garden, the library, and even Lumberjaxes Axe Throwing. Oh, and of course Mr. Smalls Theatre, Funhouse, and Café. One local mainstay, punk-rock group Murder for Girls, will perform at both the Whisper Nest bar and at a Mr. Smalls Funhouse afterparty, which will also feature Smalls co-owner Liz Berlin (of Rusted Root). However, that’s just a small portion of the festival. There’s over 100 acts, so check the festival’s social media for line-ups, times, and venues. Millvale. (C.M.)

Friday, August 13

Slip on your cowboy boots, button up your finest flannel, and head down to The Pavilion at Star Lake where Jason Aldean takes center stage. Aldean has accumulated many awards over his career, including Male Vocalist of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year at 2013’s Academy of Country Music Awards. He was born in Macon, Georgia and moved to Nashville at 21. His 2005 self-titled debut cemented his success; “Why” became his first number-one single on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Aldean was performing in 2017 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas when a gunman fired into the crowd. Fifty-eight people died; another 851 were injured. The following Saturday, Aldean opened “Saturday Night Live” with a rousing cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty had died the day following the shooting. Now Aldean is on his Back in the Saddle Tour. His latest and ninth studio album, released in 2019, is simply titled, 9. Opening are Hardy and Lainey Wilson. 7:30 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (C.M.)

Wednesday, August 18 

Modest Mouse opened for the Black Keys at PPG Paints Arena in 2019. This year, Modest Mouse are on a headlining tour in support of their new album, 2021’s The Golden Casket. They formed in Issaquah, Washington, in 1992. The band’s debut album was 1996’s This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About. 2000’s The Moon & Antarctica, their third album, was arguably a seminal indie-rock release. The group saw mainstream success with 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News and its lead single, “Float On.” 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank was another hit album for them. Eight years passed before the release of Modest Mouse’s next album, 2015’s Strangers to Ourselves. And although members have come and gone, including former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, frontman Isaac Brock is a constant. They will perform an outdoor concert at Stage AE. Empath opens. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M.)

Thursday, August 19

It’s going to be an evening of sing-alongs and big guitar riffs when the Hella Mega Tour―featuring Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer―stops at PNC Park. Green Day, who hail from East Bay, California, have albums that span generations, such as 1994’s Dookie, 2004’s American Idiot, and 2020’s Father of All Motherfuckers. Fall Out Boy emerged from the Chicago suburbs in the early aughts to bring emo to the masses with hits such as “Sugar, We’re Goin Down.” They released Greatest Hits: Believers Never Die―Volume Two in 2019. Weezer formed in Los Angeles in 1992, and their debut album, 1994’s Weezer (aka The Blue Album), is arguably a power-pop masterpiece. They’ve released a lot of albums since then, the most recent of which is 2021’s Van Weezer. Ska-punk group The Interrupters opens. 5:30 p.m. 115 Federal St., North Shore. (C.M.)

Wednesday, August 25

A Maroon 5 concert is a great setting for a fun night out. The radio-friendly rockers rose to fame with their 2002 album, Songs About Jane, which included the singles “She Will Be Loved” and “Harder to Breathe.” “Moves like Jagger” became one of the songs of the summer in 2011. In June Maroon 5 dropped their latest LP, Jordi. The album is named after the band’s late manager Jordan Feldstein, who passed away in 2017. Album tracks feature collaborations with Megan Thee Stallion, Blackbear, Stevie Nicks, Bantu, H.E.R., YG, and the late rappers Juice Wrld and Nipsey Hussle. Special guest is Blackbear. The Pavilion at Star Lake. 7 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (C.M.)

Thursday, August 26

Face-painted rock bad boys, Kiss, are one of the top-selling bands of all time. Started in New York City in 1973, the band was one of the early pioneers in rock theatrics incorporating fire, smoking guitars, flash pots and rockets into their shows. Still driven by founding members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, the band has ridden the wave of classic rock nostalgia and still attracts sizable crowds. The makeup and costumes are based on cartoon characters they created, with Stanley as The Starchild and Simmons as The Demon. Several of their biggest hits rose the charts to rock radio fame in the ‘70s including “Rock ‘n Roll All Night” “Beth” and “Detroit Rock City.” Yes, Kiss is a very dramatic band but they have also created powerful rock songs and ballads. Kiss is on their End of the Road World Tour. Catch ‘em while you can. Special guest is David Garibaldi. 7:30 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake, 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Friday, August 27

It’s a sign of normalcy when Dave Matthews Band tours in the summer, and good news, the band is doing just that, including a stop at the Pavilion at Star Lake. “Ants Marching” or “Gravedigger?” “Crash Into Me” or “Crush?” So go the speculations as to what Dave and his bandmates will put on the setlist. Formed in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1991, the group soon established itself as a premier live act. Their mix of rock, jam, and jazz has moved hearts and feet across generations. They’re also exceptional in the studio with nine albums released, the last seven of which have debuted at number one. Their latest is 2018’s Come Tomorrow. One of their biggest hits, “Crash Into Me,” was the pillar of the throwback soundtrack to 2017’s critically acclaimed movie Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut. 7:30 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (C.M.)

Saturday, August 28

“Hey mon, come on down to Forbes Avenue near Market Square today cause we be jammin’ for Rock Reggae and Relief 2021 with Jason Mraz, The Wailers, UpRooted featuring Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root, Roots of Creation, and Johnny Jensen.” The annual concert’s proceeds benefit hospitality workers and food insecurity initiatives through The Piatt Family Foundation. Beneficiaries include The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s “Community Takeout” initiative, with 412 Food Rescue. It also supports downtown Pittsburgh’s restaurants and their employees, helping their doors remain open, while also giving meals to people experiencing food insecurity. So have a blast and help out our neighbors. And if that’s not enough fun, there’s also an afterparty featuring local reggae band Ras Prophet. (R.H.)

Sunday, August 29

The Spin Doctors will perform a free, outdoor concert at Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater as part of the 2021 Allegheny County Summer Concert Series. The band, which formed in New York City, is arguably best known for the songs “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes.” Both songs are from their debut album, 1991’s Pocket Full of Kryptonite. The album’s title, a reference to Superman’s weakness, comes from lyrics to the opening tune, “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues.” Jimmy Olsen, meanwhile, is Superman’s pal―except in this song when he tries to win over Lois Lane. Pocket Full of Kryptonite was a sleeper hit, not hitting the mainstream until 1992. As the ’90s progressed, some members quit, but the classic lineup reunited in 2001. Their latest album in 2013’s If the River Was Whiskey. Gene the Werewolf opens. 7:30 p.m. 4070 Middle Rd., Allison Park. (C.M.)

Monday, August 30

Cold War Kids formed in Long Beach, California, in 2004. They released their debut album, 2006’s Robbers & Cowards, two years later. Early singles, such as “We Used to Vacation” and “Hang Me Up to Dry” set the template for their sound: metaphorical lyrics, twitchy instrumentation, and frontman Nathan Willett’s bluesy voice. 2014’s Hold My Home featured the hit single “First.” It went to number one on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. The band’s been pretty prolific the past few years. In 2019, they released New Age Norms 1 followed by New Age Norms 2 in 2020. New Age Norms 3 is set for release in September of this year. For now, the band is touring with Kings of Leon, but they will play a headlining performance at the Roxian Theatre. 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (C.M.) 

Tuesday, August 31

The Roots are not just the house band for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” They are a pioneering hip-hop band, which melds socially conscious lyrics with live jazz and rock instrumentation. The band formed in Philadelphia in 1987. Landmark releases include 1995’s Do You Want More?!!!??!, 1999’s Things Fall Apart, 2006’s Game Theory, and 2011’s Undun. They’ve collaborated with artists such as John Legend, Betty Wright, and Elvis Costello. Roots drummer Questlove directed 2021’s Summer of Soul, a documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. It features performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, The 5th Dimension, The Staple Singers, Sly and the Family Stone, and others. The Roots got the gig as the house band for Jimmy Fallon back when he began hosting “Late Night” in 2009. They will perform an outdoor concert at Stage AE. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M.)

Other Shows of Interest

Saturday, August 7
Air Supply (Palace Theater)

Sunday, August 8
The Jayhawks with Colin Southfield (Hartwood Acres)
Buffettman (Baja Bar & Grill)

Thursday, August 12
Vanilla Fudge (Jergel’s)
East Coast Turnaround (The Palace)

Sunday, August 15
Between the Buried and Me (Mr. Smalls)
Britt Floyd (Stage AE)

Tuesday, August 17
Lynn Speakman Quintet (Allegheny Overlook)
Rancid and Dropkick Murphys (Washington Wild Things)

Friday, August 18
Low Cut Connie with Milly (South Park Amphitheater)
Red Elvises (Hard Rock Cafe)

Friday, August 20
Spyro Gyra with Nicole Henry (South Park)
WAMO Summer Jam featuring Trippie Redd (Stage AE)

Tuesday, August 24
The Beach Boys (Palace Theatre)

Wednesday, August 25
Shakey Graves (Roxian Theatre)
Tab Benoit (Jergel’s)

Friday, August 27
Soul Asylum w/Local H & Juliana Hatfield (Jergel’s)
Ronnie Milsap (Palace Theatre)

Saturday, August 28
Blues Traveler w/Bindley Hardware (Arts on the Allegheny, Kittanning)

Sunday, August 29
Kenny Blake (Mastic Trail Brewing)

Tuesday, August 31
Soulfly (Crafthouse)

Several Big Concerts On the Radar

Friday, September 3
Korn & Staind (Pavilion at Star Lake)
The Clarks & Sun King Warriors (Heinz Field Rib Fest)

Saturday, September 4
Kool & The Gang (Rivers Casino)
The Doobie Brothers (Pavilion at Star Lake)

Sunday, September 5
Lady A (Stage AE)

Tuesday, September 7
Sad Summer Festival featuring  All Time Low (Stage AE)

Wednesday, September 8
St. Vincent (Stage AE)

Thursday, September 9
Kesha (Stage AE)

Thursday, September 16

Elton John performing in Skien, Norway in 2009. (Photo: Ernst Vikne and Wikipedia)

Elton John performing in Skien, Norway in 2009. (Photo: Ernst Vikne and Wikipedia)

Elton John (PNC Park)
Yinz Citizen Benefit Concert for 412 Food Rescue

Friday, September 17
Dan + Shay (PPG Paints Arena)
Chaka Khan at Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (Benedum)

Sunday, September 19
Patrice Rushen at Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival 

Thursday, September 23
Dawes (Roxian Theatre)

Friday, September 24
Chris Stapleton (Pavilion at Star Lake)
Code Orange (Roxian Theatre)

Sunday, September 26
The Mavericks (Byham Theater)

Rick Handler is the Executive Producer of Entertainment Central.