August Concert Preview: Succulent Sounds Ripe for the Picking

Foo Fighters performing in November 2007. From left to right: Chris Shiflett, Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins and Nate Mendel. photo by mojo-jo-jo.

Foo Fighters performing in November 2007. From left to right: Chris Shiflett, Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins and Nate Mendel. photo by mojo-jo-jo.

The weather has changed from rainy and cool to sunny, hot, and humid. We’re now in the waning days of the summer concert season; it’s time to squeeze out every last drop of fun. In summer most of the mega acts are playing the stadiums and sheds. August’s biggest shows—Foo Fighters, One Direction, Jimmy Buffett, Nicki Manaj, and Tim McGraw—are all outdoors. If you don’t like heat, humidity, or the threat of rain there’s still a nice selection of indoor shows. Music legends Graham Nash and Merle Haggard, Idina Menzel, John Hiatt, Taj Mahal, and The Grass Roots are all performers who you can enjoy in air-conditioned comfort this month.

The Allegheny County Summer Concert Series heats up with performances from all-stars Bootsy Collins, Howard Jones, and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes with their local friend Joe Grushecky opening. RANT (Rock All Night Tour) in Lawrenceville will feature concerts all over the neighborhood from rising local bands and performers. There is so much going on, one could have a very good staycation. These are some of our favorites in the ‘Burgh this month; there are many other great shows as well, so get out and enjoy your favorite kind of music.

Saturday, August 1

Coyote Stories, the new album from indie-folk band The Crane Wives, is not out until August 29 (it’s available for pre-order), but you can listen to the first single, “Sleeping Giants,” on their website—and while you do, gaze in appreciation at the beautifully illustrated cover art by artist Rebecca Green, who also provided the covers for the band’s first two albums. “Sleeping Giants” is a foot-stomping celebration, featuring the band’s signature three-part harmonies and Celtic-influenced style, and is sure to get the crowd moving at Pittsburgh Winery. The four-piece from Grand Rapids, Michigan, have been particularly prolific this year—they’ve recorded two new full-length albums, including Coyote Stories. The second of what they’re calling “sister albums” will be released in February. The Crane Wives have been playing together since 2010, when duo Emilee Petersmark and Kate Pillsbury (both guitar and vocals) combined with college friends and bandmates Tom Gunnels (banjo) and Dan Rickabus (drums and vocals), and later adding Ben Zito (bass). Gunnels has since left, but the band continues as a four-piece. Brandon Wallace Muske opens. 9 p.m. 2815 Penn Ave., Strip District. (HM)

Sunday, August 2

Born William Collins, sometimes known as “Bootzilla,” the bassist best known as Bootsy Collins will be bringing the funk, his Rubber Band, and a pair of star-shaped sunglasses to Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater as part of the Allegheny County 2015 Summer Concert Series. In 1968, Bootsy formed his first group, The Pacesetters, who would later become the original J.B.’s, James Brown’s backing band. The original J.B.’s were featured on some of Brown’s funkiest cuts, including “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.” In the early ‘70s, Bootsy became not only a member of George Clinton’s Funkadelic but also a major contributor to the sound of the group and its sister act, Parliament. In 1976, Bootsy formed Bootsy’s Rubber Band, an ensemble which furthered the P-Funk landscape with tracks like “Bootzilla,” a No. 1 R&B hit. Bootsy has yet to allow dust to collect on his star-shaped sunglasses. He still tours regularly, and, in 2011, he released the solo album Tha Funk Capital of the World, featuring the likes of Ice Cube and Samuel L. Jackson, among others. 7:30 p.m. 200 Hartwood Acres, Hampton and Indiana townships. (CM)


Living proof that sometimes it’s better to come third, boy band One Direction are bringing their “On The Road Again” show to Pittsburgh. The band came together on the 2010 season of British television talent show “The X Factor” and had to settle for third place (beaten by Matt Cardle and Rebecca Ferguson, in case you’re wondering), but they have been winning at everything ever since. 1D are touring their fourth album, the aptly titled Four, and introducing fans to their new slimmed-down line-up after the departure of band member Zayn Malik in March. Four hasn’t had quite the chart domination of their previous albums, but singles “Steal My Girl” and “Night Changes” both went platinum in the U.S. Their first album, Up All Night, sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S., while the worldwide smash hit “What Makes You Beautiful” peaked at No. 4 on the charts. For a sneak preview of what to expect at the show, check out a celeb-studded behind-the-scenes video the band has posted online. Swedish duo Icona Pop opens. 7 p.m. Heinz Field, 100 Art Rooney Ave., North Shore. (HM)


Santa Rosa, California indie-rockers The Velvet Teen have just released their fourth studio album, All Is Illusory, in time for their summer tour. The album comes nine years after their last full-length release, 2006’s Cum Laude!, although they’ve put out an EP in the intervening time. On the band’s Facebook page, they describe their genre as “grunge, amirite?” but their output has swirled from electro-pop to prog-rock (they also describe themselves as an “international shape-shifting band of mystery”). The first release from the new album, “The Giving In,” is similarly undefinable—with a pounding baseline and simmering drums, but light, soaring vocals. The current band lineup of Casey Deitz, Josh Staples, and Judah Nagler perform under what was originally the name of Nagler’s solo project.  With Edhochuli and Atlas. 9.30 p.m. Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. (HM)

Tuesday, August 4

How is it that “American Dad!,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Sons of Anarchy,” three very different television shows, have featured music by Delta Spirit? The answer has to do with Delta Spirit’s sound. Although the quintet falls under the broad genre of indie, they dabble in anthemic rock (“From Now On”) and folk (“Devil Knows You’re Dead”), plus a few sub-genres in between. The latter song, by the way, was used in the series finale of “Friday Night Lights.” Delta Spirit got started when bassist Jonathan Jameson and drummer Brandon Young spotted singer Matthew Vasquez busking at 2 a.m. on a bench—talk about right place, right time. The group’s now touring in support of their fourth studio album, 2014’s Into the Wide, their highest-charting release yet. Inspired by the many guest musicians featured on The Band’s The Last Waltz, Delta Spirit promise to bring a special performer on stage for each tour stop. Denver got The Lumineers (and a Dylan cover). Who knows whom Pittsburgh will get for Delta Spirit’s Mr. Smalls show? 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)


Twice the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has inducted Graham Nash: once with folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills, and Nash and a second time with British pop group The Hollies. With the Hollies, Nash sang on pop songs like 1964’s “To You My Love.” With CSN, he wrote some of their biggest hits, like 1970’s “Our House,” which also features occasional CSN-collaborator Neil Young. In both acts, Nash lent his guitar stylings and distinct tenor vocals, both of which are sure to be on display for his solo show at The Palace Theatre. He knows people will be coming to hear hits like “Our House,” “Guinnevere,” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” But fans can also expect a few new compositions as well, from a solo album to be released in 2016. In addition to being a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Nash is also an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to both charity and music. 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (CM)

Friday, August 7

Southern rock finds its way north to Station Square’s Summer Jam Series with The Outlaws. For the past 40 years, the band has been thriving in the Southern rock genre along with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, and The Allman Brothers. Founded in Tampa, Florida, in ’67, 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.” The Outlaws trademarks include beautiful vocal harmonies and intricate lead guitar play. Lead vocalist/guitarist Henry Paul—a longtime member who often left for side projects of his own—is again a driving force for The Outlaws and was a producer on their 2012 album It’s About Pride. 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. Some things really do age gracefully. Sick Sense opens. 6:30 p.m. 125 West Station Square Dr., South Side. (RH)

Saturday, August 8

While Nicki Minaj is touring with partner and musical collaborator Meek Mill this summer in support of her third album, The Pinkprint, the duo could be spending time in the tour bus comparing notes on their Twitter troubles. Minaj is fresh from a Twitter spat (albeit a very polite one) with Taylor Swift over Minaj being snubbed by the VMAs, while Mill has been causing a stir by accusing the rapper Drake of not writing his own lyrics. Although Minaj’s social media spats and flamboyant fashion style have been making headlines, her music has been making quite an impact as well. The single “Anaconda,” from The Pinkprint, is her most successful yet, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and attracting a record-breaking 19.6 million views on Vevo (later broken by Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”). The Pinkprint Tour began in Sweden in March and includes more than 50 dates worldwide. Local fans will be pleased to know the First Niagara Pavilion ticket prices are among the cheapest on the tour—less than half of what fans are paying in Brooklyn, New York. With Meek Mill and Rae Sremmurd. 7 p.m. 665 Route 18, Burgettstown. (HM)


Love your moldy, oldie, golden gassers? Then you need to make it to The Palace Theatre for the Happy Together Tour 2015. Who’s going to be performing you ask? Some of the top groups from the 1960s and early 70s. On the bill are The Turtles featuring Flo and Eddie, The Grass Roots, Mark Lindsay (original lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders), The Association, The Cowsills, and The Buckinghams. All of the groups are first class, but I have a special affinity for The Grass Roots‘ sound. Songs like “Let’s Live for Today” with its changing tempo, “sha-la-la-la-la-la” vocals, sitar-like guitar, and melodic harmonies make it a quintessential late 60s pop-rock hit. The song rose to No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in 1967. Other hits include “Midnight Confessions”  and “Sooner or Later.” 8 p.m. 21 West Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Sunday, August 9

The website for headlining act Sugar Ray bills the Under The Sun Tour as “celebrating the golden age of alternative pop rock ‘n’ roll.” Judging by the acts on the billing—Better Than Ezra, Uncle Kracker, Eve 6—that golden age was somewhere between 1995 and 2000.  Sugar Ray had their big break with the 1997 album Floored and the hit single “Fly.” They haven’t released a new studio album since 2009’s Music For Cougars, which made little impact on the charts. In setting up the ’90s nostalgia tour, Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath told Rolling Stone that if bands of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s could hold nostalgia tours, why not 90s bands? And it seems the concept has struck a chord—it’s the third year the three-piece has toured with the Under the Sun Tour. Better Than Ezra had their big break in 1995 when their indie album Deluxe was picked up and re-released by a major label. They released their eighth studio album, All Together Now, in 2014. Doors open 5 p.m. Stage AE, 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (HM)


Singer-songwriter Jill Sobule is returning to Pittsburgh’s Club Cafe more than 10 years after recording her live DVD, Live in Pittsburgh, at the same venue. She will have plenty of new material to add to the set list since that 2003 recording—she’s released many albums since then, including last year’s Dottie’s Charms and two EPs. Her biggest commercial hit came from 1995’s self-titled album, featuring the singles “I Kissed A Girl” and “Supermodel,” which were featured on the Clueless movie soundtrack. Since then, Sobule’s sound has evolved into a narrative, folk-influenced style, which has won her a dedicated following albeit without mainstream hits. A note for fans: Live in Pittsburgh is out of print, but a post on Sobule’s Facebook page promises a recently rediscovered lost box of DVDs will be for sale on her website soon. 8 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (HM)

Monday, August 10

Legend. It’s a word Merle Haggard eschews—too lofty. But with dozens of hits plus plenty of crossover success, it’s hard to describe him as anything less. There’s also his numerous accolades: Country Music Hall of Famer, Grammy Award Winner, and Kennedy Center Honoree. Haggard rose to prominence in the late ‘60s. He writes and performs songs that are sometimes about gritty Americans, sometimes related to his spell doing time at San Quentin. 1967’s “Branded Man,” one of his first songs to go to No. 1 on the U.S. country music charts, details life upon release from prison. Many more number ones followed, and Haggard has continued to tour and release music into this decade. He also has a slight Pittsburgh connection. Haggard, like other country musicians, covered Thomas H. “Slim” Bryant’s “Mother, the Queen of My Heart.” (Bryant, a local country legend, used to play regularly on KDKA radio and television.) Pittsburghers can see Haggard at The Palace Theatre. 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (CM)

Thursday, August 13

A best-selling author, successful restaurateur, and beverage manufacturer will be making an appearance in the Pittsburgh area. Who might that be, you ask? Jimmy Buffett! The quintessential singer-songwriter has successfully transformed his brand of fun and vacationy party music into a series of books, restaurants, and libations. Oh, don’t worry, he still has time to visit with Parrot Heads (Buffett fans) in Pittsburgh every year. Some likely sounds on the setlist for Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band include “Margaritaville,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” and “Fins.” Buffett, who upon college graduation worked for a while as a correspondent for Billboard magazine in Nashville, first started out performing in the country arena and busked for tourists in New Orleans. A busking trip to Key West gave him the inspiration for his island sound which is a unique mix of country, folk, pop, and tropical melodies. 8 p.m. First Niagara Pavilion. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (RH)

Friday, August 14

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes are bringing their wall of sound to South Park as part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series. The band features a New Jersey rock sound complemented by a talented horn section. Southside Johnny’s first three albums were arranged and produced by the co-founder of the band and Bruce Springsteen associate Steven Van Zandt. The albums mainly comprised songs written by Van Zandt and/or Springsteen. They are known for the songs “Trapped Again,” “Without Love,” and “We’re Having A Party.” Jon Bon Jovi cites Southside Johnny as a big influence on him becoming a singer. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes are touring in advance of their latest album Soultime! set to be released this fall. A special guest will be local rock legend Joe Grushecky—who generates a dynamic Pittsburgh sound, and is a friend and collaborator to Jersey guys Southside Johnny and Springsteen. 7:30 p.m. South Park Amphitheatre, Brownsville and McCorkle Rds. (RH)


Pittsburgh indie band The Velcro Shoes are playing Club Cafe this month with an almost all-local line-up that could be billed as the “Indie Bands With Excellent Names” show. They’re joined by fellow locals Claire with the Turban—who describe themselves as “guitar-driven shoe-gazey alt-synth”—and Street Pigeons, who describe themselves as a northern rock band. Rounding out the line-up is Michigan husband-and-wife duo Overly Polite Tornadoes, who also have a contemplative, shoe-gazey vibe. The Velcro Shoes, made up of Eric Emerson, Garett Bogden, Bill Krowinski, and Mike Slobodian, put out their second release, Emphatic, last year. It’s available for digital download. Their artist bio promises the live show will transport you back to time “before jumping up and down was replaced by the head nod,” so choose your footwear appropriately. 10:15 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (HM)

Saturday, August 15

Pittsburgh native singer/songwriter Bill Deasy performs his annual Live by Request show at Club Cafe. Best known for his work as the former (and current, for reunion shows) lead singer of The Gathering Field, Deasy deals in easygoing, mellow, acoustic folk rock. In this annual performance, the audience picks the set list; it’s a great opportunity to force Deasy to flex his musical muscles, since he has little idea beforehand what songs he’ll be asked to play. When you enter Club Cafe just fill out a request form and drop it in the open guitar case on stage. Deasy has an impressive background, having released and toured nationally in promotion of 13 studio albums, including four with The Gathering Field and seven as a solo artist. He’s also dabbled in the authorial arts—in 2006, he released Ransom Seaborn, his first of three books so far, which are now known collectively known as the Finbar Trilogy. Deasy’s most recent musical release is 2013’s Start Again. 7 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (RH)


Country duo Florida Georgia Line have named their 2015 summer tour Anything Goes, and that’s the band’s personal mantra too: “It says it all. No boundaries, no genre, no rules,” says Tyler Hubbard. He’s the Georgian half of the pair, along with Brian Kelley, from Florida. It’s the first time they’re headlining their own tour, after opening for Luke Brian, Taylor Swift, and Jason Aldean in recent years. The duo formed in Nashville in 2010 and have since put out two albums, 2012’s Here’s to the Good Times and last year’s Anything Goes, which went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and the Country Albums chart. They were apparently the first group to be labeled as “bro-country,” a rock and hip-hop influenced style, best demonstrated by their smash single “Cruise” (which was later remixed by hip-hop artist Nelly and given an even more leery video). With Thomas Rhett and Frankie Ballard. 7:30 p.m. First Niagara Pavilion, 665 Route 18, Burgettstown. (HM)


For music-lovers who missed the Deutschtown Music Festival or are bummed it’s over, don’t forget one of its precursors, Lawrenceville’s Rock All Night Tour, aka RANT. Butler Street and the boulevards running off it are home to some of the ‘burgh’s hottest spots: bars, restaurants, and, of course, Arsenal Lanes, a popular bowling alley. Many of these venues, including the bowling alley, will serve as venues for the festival. Lawrenceville United, plus numerous volunteers, host the annual all-day event, which is now in its fourth year. With multiple venues, including three outdoor stages, and over 100 bands scheduled, there’s too much to list. But here’s a quick sampling: Want country-swing and a succulent fried fish sandwich? Frequent Nied’s Hotel. Slim Forsythe and his Payday Loaners, including noted drummer Brad Smith, will host the other eight acts scheduled at this historic establishment. The Thunderbird is a Butler Street mainstay and is also where you can catch rockers Chrome Moses. Chet Vincent, a Lawrenceville man himself and one of this year’s festival organizers, will play with his band, the Big Bend, at Javo. Singer-songwriter, folk, metal, and other genres will also be represented throughout the day. For a complete list of venues, and the acts playing therein, be sure to visit the festival’s website. noon–2 a.m. Free. Lawrenceville. (CM)

Sunday, August 16

Counting Crows released their debut album, August and Everything After, in 1993, at a time when grunge dominated alternative rock radio. But singer Adam Duritz’s whine and the rest of the group’s Americana instrumentation harked more to Van Morrison and The Band than to Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Yet listeners fell in love with their sound and August … went on to sell 7 million copies in the U.S. alone. The rest of the Berkeley, California, band’s career breaks down roughly as follows: more ‘90s hits, an Oscar nomination for Shrek 2’s “Accidentally in Love,” slight commercial/popularity decline in the mid-2000s, a covers album, and 2014’s Somewhere Under Wonderland, arguably their best work since 1999’s This Desert Life. Songs like “Palisades Park” display Duritz at his poetic peak; it, plus other cuts from the album, have been all over adult contemporary radio this past year. They’re promoting the record with a tour, one which stops at Pittsburgh’s Stage AE. Citizen Cope and Hollis Brown open. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Sunday, August 23

“Things Can Only Get Better” Howard Jones sang in his snyth-pop, British new wave song in 1985. The positive, infectious hit featured a catchy base groove and vocals, great keyboard and horn runs, and backing vocals from the all-female group Afrodiziak. The song even crossed over and was a success on the R&B charts. Jones had success with other songs, with 15 Top 40 hit singles worldwide between 1983 and 1992. Those hits included “No One is to Blame,” “Like to Get to Know You Well,” and “Everlasting Love.” His 1984 album Human’s Lib entered the U.K. charts at the No. 1 and stayed on the charts for 57 consecutive weeks. Not content to just revel in the glow of past hits, Jones’ works with music equipment-makers to help develop new models of keyboards and synthesizers. He also has a new CD and DVD of his multimedia show Engage, which just ended its New York City run. “A highly interactive live experience designed to immerse audiences in an audio/visual feast. It embraces EDM, contemporary classical, cinematic and pop music influences, and fuses it with ballet, modern dance and philosophy,” is how the show is described on Jones’ site. He’s in concert at Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheatre as part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series. 7:30 p.m. Middle Road, Hampton Township. (RH)

Tuesday, August 25

Foo Fightersa Seattle, Washington, band created by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, co-opted their name from the term World War II pilots gave to UFOs and anomalies they would encounter while flying missions. Four Foo Fighters’ albums have won Grammys for Rock Album of the Year, a great accomplishment. Their music has a hard rock base with good rhythms and melody and strong clear vocals by Grohl, who also plays guitar and sometimes drums. In June Grohl fell from the stage in Gothenburg, Sweden. The rest of the band continued playing while he received medical attention. He continued through the rest of the concert sitting in a chair and singing while medics worked on his leg. After the concert Grohl flew to London and had six pins inserted in his leg during surgery, and now he and the band are on their newly christened Broken Leg Tour. He is still hobbling around, but making sure the fans enjoy a great show. Their latest release is 2014’s Sonic Highways. 7 p.m. First Niagara Pavilion, 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (RH)


In the past two years, Broadway star Idina Menzel‘s career (which was doing quite nicely already, thank you) has been unexpectedly hijacked by a song from a Disney movie. As the voice of Queen Elsa, who sings “Let It Go,” from the movie Frozen, Menzel’s fame has reached a whole new level. The Tony-award winning actress and singer had already been branching out to a new audience with a recurring guest role as Rachel Berry’s mother on the television musical “Glee.” But it’s the success of “Let It Go” that has driven her first-ever World Tour this year, with dates in the UK, Japan, and the Netherlands. The set list draws from her most successful stage roles in Wicked and Rent; her 2008 studio album, I Stand; and last year’s seasonal album Holiday Wishes. You can bet a certain popular Disney movie song will feature too. SOLD OUT. 8 p.m. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (HM)

Friday, August 28

It started with a YouTube video, a cover of The Beatles’s “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. As for that video, it’s still racking up views—14 million and counting. His albums are a mix of island and abroad, originals and covers. Take his upcoming album, Travels, to be released October 9 of this year. There will be new material, new takes on Hawaiian classics, and renditions of pop standards like the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There.” For a preview of some of these cuts, plus standards like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” see Shimabukuro at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. 8 p.m. 510 E 10th Ave., Munhall. (CM)

Saturday, August 29

From their band name to their lyrics, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars don’t mince words. They hail from the West African country torn apart by civil war throughout the 1990s. The original members knew one another before the war, but it wasn’t until relocating to a refugee camp in neighboring Guinea in 1997 that they formed the All Stars. For three years, the group would bounce around Guinean refugee camps but, wherever they were relocated, they always brought joy through their music. During this time, they caught the ears and eyes of American filmmakers Zach Niles and Banker White. The duo filmed the group, who became the subject of their 2005 documentary Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars. Living Like a Refugee, the group’s debut album, followed in 2006. It addresses the atrocities of the Sierra Leone Civil War but also touches on themes of hope and optimism. The ensemble’s toured the world since and even once opened for Aerosmith. They will contribute a song to The Long Road, an upcoming compilation album organized by the British Red Cross. Artists on the album will recount the stories of refugees living in Britain. For now, Pittsburghers can check out the All Stars at the Thunderbird Cafe & Lounge. 9 p.m. 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. (CM)

Sunday, August 30

Country superstar Tim McGraw released a greatest hits album this year—35 Biggest Hits—which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Country Album Charts. When you’ve been in the game for 25 years, you can expect to have a double compilation-worth of hits up your sleeve. But this is McGraw’s eighth best-of compilation. That’s not even including a duets album and collection of love songs. Some of the latter output has been the result of McGraw’s former label, Curb Records, cashing in on his back catalogue while he releases new work with new Big Machine Records. That legal headache for McGraw has been a bonanza for fans of the multi-award winning artist. McGraw is touring this year on the back of his 13th studio album, Sundown Heaven Town, which topped the U.S. Country charts in 2014 while third single “Shotgun Rider” also went to No. 1. The 2015 tour shares the hit single’s name and features opening acts Billy Currington and Chase Bryant. 7 p.m. First Niagara Pavilion, 665 Route 18, Burgettstown. (HM)


The Palace Theatre is offering the chance to see two different, yet equally accomplished, singer-songwriters, plus their respective bands, in one evening: John Hiatt & The Combo and Taj Mahal Trio. When Hiatt was 18 years old, he moved to Nashville and worked for Tree-Music Publishing Company as a songwriter. In 1974, Three Dog Night scored a top 20 hit with a cover of Hiatt’s song, “Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here,” and artists as diverse as Iggy Pop and Emmylou Harris have since also covered his work. It wasn’t until 1987 that Hiatt had his own charted effort with Bring the Family. His success continued to build, and in the last five years alone, he’s released three albums, with 2014’s Terms of My Surrender being the most recent. Taj Mahal, born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, is a blues and world musician. His eponymous debut was released in 1968, and by the ‘70s, he was putting a Caribbean/African/South Pacific-spin on finger-picking blues. His cover of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues” inspired the Allman Brothers Band to record their classic take on this old blues standard. Last year, Taj Mahal received the Lifetime Achievement for Performance Award at the 13th Annual Americana Honors and Awards in recognition of a career that spans 50 years. 7:30 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (CM)


Rick Handler, Entertainment Central’s executive producer, is a lover of great music.

Christopher Maggio and Heather McCracken also made substantial contributions to this preview.

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