Concert Guide April 2024: McGraw, Rundgren, Valli, Guy, Bocelli, Gilbert, and Raitt

Tim McGraw before a benefit concert for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Joseph Meyerhof Symphony Hall in Baltimore. (Photo: Steve Kwak and Wikipedia)

Tim McGraw before performing at a benefit concert for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Joseph Meyerhof Symphony Hall in Baltimore in 2015. (Photo: Steve Kwak and Wikipedia)

Country music provides two of the biggest acts this month—the always popular Tim McGraw and another top performer, Brantley Gilbert. April also sees the legendary musicians, Frankie Valli and Buddy Guy on their farewell tours. However if their farewell tours are like rock band farewell tours we may just see them again. Another amazing talent—Andrea Bocelli will sing at PPG Paints Arena. Queensrÿche, Asking Alexandria, and Smallpoools provide some power rock to the mix. Then slow things down just a little with the strong double bill of Shawn Colvin and KT Tunstall. JJ Grey and Mofro provide some solid southern rock. This month also sees the ever popular Todd Rundgren performing at the Roxian. Hometown heroes, and father and son musicians, Poogie Bell and Winston Bell respectively, play a show at Greer Cabaret Theatre. Bonnie Raitt rounds out the month with her popular brand of blues rock. If there’s a band or performer you love, and they’re on their farewell tour, see them. If there’s someone you always wanted to check out, buy a ticket, as some very talented people leave us without farewell tours.

This Guide features (in chronological order) Spotlight Picks, Other Shows of Interest, and Big Shows on the Horizon. Get out and see what pleases you, whether it’s one of our concert picks or something entirely different. Mike Vargo (M.V.) also contributed to this guide.

Spotlight Picks

Thursday, April 4

Andrea Bocelli is billed on his website as “the world’s most beloved tenor.” The claim is difficult to fact-check, because love is subjective, and may include qualitative as well as quantitative dimensions. But there can be no disputing his popularity or the scope of his musical achievements over the years. Bocelli is a consummate crossover artist. He sings opera, pop ballads, sacred music, and more. He has duetted with singers ranging from Pavarotti (an early champion of Bocelli’s career) to Celine Dion. Bocelli transports listeners with a voice that is warm and intimate; perhaps he’s best described as a soulful tenor. He has been honored with the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in his home country, and with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You may have caught Bocelli on TV last month when he sang “Time to Say Goodbye” with his son Matteo at the Academy Awards. This month you can hear him live. Andrea Bocelli visits PPG Paints Arena on his current North American tour. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (M.V.)

Sunday, April 7

A few items from the resume of a living legend: Buddy Guy is ranked 23rd in Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Guy has influenced other great guitarists on that list, including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He is one of the most successful artists in the Chicago Blues style. Guy has won eight Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 by B.B. King and Clapton. He played with the legendary Muddy Waters and frequently teamed up with the noted late harmonica player Junior Wells. Two of Guy’s top songs are “Stone Crazy” and “Cut You Loose.” Of his numerous albums, the most recent is 2022’s The Blues Don’t Lie. And no lie, for real, he is now on his Damn Right Farewell Tour. So you just might want to catch Buddy Guy at The Palace Theatre, with his guest King Solomon Hicks. 7:30 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (R.H., M.V.)

Thursday, April 11

You can hear a little of Otis Redding in JJ Grey’s raspy vocals. The music of Stax Records, meanwhile, permeates his backing band, Mofro, specifically within those lush horns. Unsurprisingly, Grey touts both Redding and Stax, along with Jerry Reed and rappers Run-D.M.C., as influences. All of these musical forebears mix together in JJ Grey and Mofro’s sound, which is hard to classify: sometimes southern rock, sometimes swamp rock, all of it great. Grey hails from Jacksonville, Florida. He later moved to his maternal grandparents’ former chicken farm, installed a studio there, and formed Mofro in the late 1990s. Their debut album was 2001’s Blackwater—followed by eight more in fairly regular succession, up to 2015’s Ol’ Glory—after which came a pregnant pause in studio recording. Until finally this year, lo, a new album has been delivered. It’s Olustee, the name of a creek and town in rural Florida, and talk about coming full circle: In the Muscogee language, Olustee means “Blackwater.” Catch JJ Grey & Mofro on their Olustee Tour at Stage AE. Special guest is Judith Hill. 6:30 p.m. 400 N. Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M., M.V.)

Saturday, April 13

If you like your country on the country-rock side, seasoned with old-time religion and redneck pride, let Brantley Gilbert give you a ride. The man has a passel of platinum singles. He started as a Nashville songwriter, and then jump-started onto the star track when he grabbed the mic and poured his own voice into it. (Gilbert was named the Academy of Country Music’s New Male Vocalist of the Year in 2012.) His six studio albums tend to have Christian themes or at least titles, from A Modern Day Prodigal Son to his latest, So Help Me God. Just a look-and-listen to a video like the one for “Hard Days” should tell you where he’s coming from. But we’re not talking about a goody two-shoes here. Gilbert can be prone to cussin’ and cuttin’ loose. His current Off the Rails Tour invites you to go just where it says. Gilbert pulls the train into UPMC Events Center for a concert with guests including Struggle Jennings and Demun Jones.  7 p.m. on the Robert Morris campus at 6001 University Blvd., Moon Township. (M.V.)

 Poogie Bell is headlining his own ticketed show at the Greer Cabaret Theater at Theater Square. Bell is one of Pittsburgh’s top percussionists and has toured with jazz great Marcus Miller and played with numerous other big name musicians. His father, Charles, was a jazz pianist and band leader. Bell performed with his dad’s band at the early age of two and a half at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Music Hall. As a sideman, he has worked on three Grammy Award-winning albums: Chaka Khan’s 1992 album, The Woman I Am, which won the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance; Marcus Miller’s 2001 album, M2, which won the 2002 Best Contemporary Jazz Album; and Angélique Kidjo’s 2007 album, Djin Djin, which won the 2008 Best Contemporary World Music Album. Bell tours the world and has recorded five albums of his own. The latest is 2013’s Suga Top. Bell is also a noted music producer as well. For this show Bell takes the stage with his son, Winston, a very talented saxophonist. Hear music composed by three generations of the Bell family. 7 p.m. 655 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (R.H.)

Tuesday, April 16

April is not the cruelest month for fans of contemporary singer-songwriters. Au contraire, it brings a chance to hear two outstanding musicians for the price of one. The acclaimed Americana artist Shawn Colvin is touring with the equally acclaimed Scottish folk-rocker KT Tunstall. Unless you’ve been tuned out of the genre you probably know Tunstall’s signature hit from the 2000-aughts, “Suddenly I See.” Meanwhile, Colvin remains well known for her Grammy-winning song of the 1990s, “Sunny Came Home.” And the women have hardly been resting on their laurels in recent years. So far, Colvin has released 12 studio albums plus two live albums and counting. Tunstall’s eight albums include 2022’s Nut and last year’s Face to Face (with Suzi Quatro). Shawn Colvin and KT Tunstall perform together in Pittsburgh at the Byham Theater. 7:30 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Cultural District. (M.V.)

Indie rockers Smallpools, led by founders lead vocalist/keyboardist Sean Scanlon and guitarist Mike Kamerman, hit a home run right out of the gate in 2013. After forming in Los Angeles in 2012, they wrote and produced the song “Dreaming” which reached no. 23 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart, and was later certified gold. They released the song online before they even played their first live gig. RCA Records signed the band and “Dreaming” was part of their first EP and debut studio album Lovetap. The group released two other albums: Life in a Simulation (2013) and Cameras & Coastlines & Covers (2023). Currently, Smallpools is getting ready to release part one of their two-part album Ghost Town Road, Ghost Town Road East (April 6). Rock the house this month with Smallpools at Thunderbird Cafe & Music Hall. Coheadlining is Philadelphia alt rockers Grayscale. Special guests are The Romance, and Fia James. 4053 Butler St., Lawrenceville. (R.H.)

Smallpools. (Photo: Alex Berger)

Smallpools. (Photo: Alex Berger)

Saturday, April 20

It’s true: Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons are on tour. And if reading that sentence makes you feel lost in a time warp, it’s understandable. Valli is due to turn 90 in May. Pianist/songwriter Bob Gaudio, the other surviving original member of The Four Seasons, is merely 81 but stopped performing with the group long ago (though he remains involved offstage). All of the group’s legendary songs—from “Sherry” to “Walk Like a Man” to you-name-it—are now history, along with Valli’s many solo ventures. The boys are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the bio-musical about their rise to fame, Jersey Boys, is legendary in its own right. However, the final chapter of this history hasn’t been written quite yet. Valli and The Four Seasons’ current lineup visit Heinz Hall on what’s been dubbed The Last Encores tour. Tickets are scarce and probably pricey. Which has never stopped a true fan, because if you’ve gotta be there, you’ll be there! 8 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (M.V.)

Wednesday, April 24

Progressive heavy metal band Queensrÿche formed in Bellevue, Washington in 1982 and rose to national prominence with the 1990 hit “Silent Lucidity.” The song was nominated for two Grammys and five MTV Music Awards, winning for Viewers’ Choice. After some breakups, reformations, and controversy over who owned the name Queensrÿche—with two different bands touring under the name—all legal matters were settled and the band (only one) resumed touring and recording. Isn’t rock ‘n roll grand! Queensrÿche has released 15 studio albums, the latest being 2022’s Digital Noise Alliance, and the second, “temporary” version of the group released one album as well. Queensrÿche visits the Roxian Theatre for an all-ages concert. The scheduled guest act is Armored Saint. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (M.V.)

Saturday, April 27

Country superstar Tim McGraw seems to be at a very good place in his life. He is a very popular act, having won three Grammy Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music awards, 11 Country Music Association (CMA) awards, 10 American Music Awards, and three People’s Choice Awards. Thirteen (!) of his albums have occupied the number one spot on the Top Country Albums charts. Oh, and he’s also married to the very talented and lovely Faith Hill. Life hasn’t always been a bed of roses for McGraw. Growing up, he thought his stepfather was his real father until, while searching for Christmas presents at age 11, he found his birth certificate with his father listed as baseball player Tug McGraw. Tim’s mother took him to meet Tug, but Tug denied that he was the father for seven years. Then Tim and Tug became very close until Tug’s death from a brain tumor in 2004. In response to his father’s death, Tim recorded the memorable song “Live Like You Were Dying.” McGraw is now on his Standing Room Only Tour, supporting last year’s album of that title. Tim McGraw plays PPG Paints Arena with guest artist Carly Pearce. 7 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (R.H., M.V.)

Monday, April 29

“Can We Still Be Friends,” “Hello It’s Me,” and “I Saw the Light” were three monster hits in the ’70s for the accomplished pop rocker Todd Rundgren. A musical composer, performer, and producer who plays many different instruments, Rundgren is a free spirit whose creativity is limitless and songs melodically beautiful. He’s produced top albums for many individuals and groups, including Hall & Oates, Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, and The Psychedelic Furs. Rundgren is touring in support of his latest release, 2022’s Space Force. It is the prolific Rundgren’s 27th solo album. 7 p.m. Roxian Theatre, 425 Chartiers Ave., McKee’s Rocks.  (R.H.)

Todd Rundgren jamming in concert in 2009. photo: Carl Lender.

Todd Rundgren jamming in concert in 2009. photo: Carl Lender.


Blues rock musician Bonnie Raitt plays a sold out show at Heinz Hall this month. Raitt after working diligently for more than 10 years, achieved mega-success on the strength of her albums Nick of Time (1989) and Luck of the Draw (1991). Something to Talk About” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” were high-charting songs from the latter album. She had another hit album in 2012 with Sliptstream, her first in seven years. Raitt is touring in support of her newest album, 2022’s Just Like That…. 7:30 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (R.H.)

Tuesday, April 30

Pop culture quiz: “Asking Alexandria” is (a) an advice column in Australian media, (b) the city directory for Alexandria, Egypt, or (c) an English rock band that plays dire and deathly metal, with dramatic howling and drumming. Picking (c) means you are smart! And counterintuitively smart, since the metalcore members of Asking Alexandria somehow chose a name that neither evokes mayhem nor has an umlaut. Founder and longtime lead guitarist Ben Bruce formed the band in 2006 in Dubai. Then came a move back to England and a major personnel shuffle in 2008-09. Most of that reconstituted lineup remains, including lead vocalist Danny Worsnop, although Bruce recently stepped away, citing a desire for more personal time and thanking his fans. Asking Alexandria has evolved musically over the years while compiling a proud track record. On the U.K. scene, the band has won several Kerrang! Awards and Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards. The latest of their nine studio albums is last year’s Where Do We Go From Here? And they’ll be in the Pittsburgh area for a concert at the Roxian Theatre. Guests are Memphis May Fire, The Word Alive, and Nerv. 6:30 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (M.V.)

Other Shows of Interest:

Friday, April 5
John Oates (Palace Theatre)
Punkapalooza (Moondog’s Pub)

Friday, April 12
Brooke Annibale and Morgan Erina (Pittsburgh Winery)

Saturday, April 6
Bill Toms and Hard Rain (City Winery)
Chris Higbee (Rivers Casino)

Tuesday, April 9
Al Di Meola (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall)

Thursday, April 11
Matthew Sweet (City Winery)

Friday, April 12
Suzanne Vega (City Winery)
Gregorian (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall)

Saturday, April 13
Rock ‘n Remember (Benedum Center)

Tuesday, April 16
Paul Constentino w/Boilermaker Jazz Band (Greer Cabaret Theater)

Saturday, April 20
Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors and Mia Z.  (Earth Day at Pittsburgh Zoo)

Sunday, April 21
Pittsburgh Oldies All Stars (Palace Theatre)

Thursday, April 25
Yinzerfest w/Joe Grushecky and The House Rockers, Rick Witkowski, Scott Blasey, and more. (D.L. Lawrence Convention Center)
Coco Taylor (Hard Rock Cafe)

Saturday, April 27
Sean Jones & Dwayne Dolphin (Greer Cabaret Theater)

Big Shows on the Horizon

May 2
Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie

May 9 – 11
They Might Be Giants (Mr. Smalls Theatre)

May 18
Greta Van Fleet (PPG Paints Arena)

May 23
Heart and Cheap Trick (PPG Paints Arena)

May 28
Joe Jackson (Palace Theatre)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.

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