February 2020 Concert Guide: Post Malone, The Lumineers, Boyz II Men, Cheap Trick, Little Big Town, and Donnie Iris

Post Malone in concert on the main stage at Stavernfestivalen in Stavern, Norway, in 2018. (photo: Wikipedia and Tore Sætre)

Post Malone in concert on the main stage at Stavernfestivalen in Stavern, Norway, in 2018. (photo: Wikipedia and Tore Sætre)

The shortest month of the year is also one of the most varied musically in recent memory. Top 40 acts of past and present include Cheap Trick, Boyz II Men, Little Big Town, the Lumineers, and Post Malone. But this February also offers blues (Tedeschi Trucks Band). Rock (Dr. Dog). Metal (Queensryche). Soul (Durand Jones and the Indications). Jazz (Cécile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner). Oldies (The Spinners). Hawaiian (Jake Shimabukuro). Irish (Gaelic Storm). Ska (The Toasters). Instrumental hip-hop (RJD2). Whatever genre Citizen Cope is. Heck, there’s even a reggae group playing dub versions of Grateful Dead covers.

Like January, February is also a timely month to see local musicians, who don’t have to compete for attention with larger summer acts. These musicians include the classic (Donnie Iris and the Cruisers with Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers), the indie (Rave Ami, Brooke Annibale), and the up-and-coming (Brittney Chantele). 

There’s an extra day this February, so no excuses: support live music if you can. The Entertainment Central Concert Guide can help. It is made up of three sections: EC Spotlighted Concerts, Other Suggested Shows, and On the Radar. Each section lists concerts in chronological order. Rick Handler (RH) also made substantial contributions to the Guide.

EC Spotlighted Concerts

Saturday, February 1

Little Big Town opened for Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert during past visits to Pittsburgh.  This time, the quartet headlines the Benedum Center. As it should, for Little Big Town has won multiple awards, including Grammys and CMAs. “Girl Crush,” just one of many songs by the band to chart on both country and popular radio, was one of the best-selling country singles of 2015. It appears on 2014’s Pain Killer, the group’s sixth studio album. Little Big Town formed in Homewood, Alabama in 1998, and all four of its original members continue to record, perform, and tour together. Their latest album is this year’s Nightfall. One of the songs is titled “Over Drinking,” but they aren’t quite teetotalling yet. They recently collaborated with Browne Family Vineyards to launch 4 Cellars wine. Day Drinking is their line of canned wine spritzers. 8 p.m. 237 7th St., Cultural District. (CM)

Things are going to heat up a lot this month with a double bill of two outstanding Pittsburgh rock groups at the Palace—Donnie Iris and The Cruisers and Joe Grusheky and The Houserockers. Sure to be on the set list for “King Cool” and his Cruisers are top favorites including “Ah Leah” and “Love Is Like a Rock.” Iris was once a member of the Pittsburgh group The Jaggerz in the early ’70s who had a monster hit with the “The Rapper,” which reached no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Now Iris and The Cruisers are celebrating their 40th Anniversary. Pittsburgh rock royalty Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers have remained a constant on the Pittsburgh music scene as the city morphed from steel mills to high-tech foundry. Grushecky is a consummate singer/songwriter. Grushecky and The Houserockers in 2018 released a new, first-rate album, More Yesterdays than Tomorrows. There are many hot tracks on the release including “The Voice.” 7:40 p.m. February 1 and there’s also a second show on February 8, both nights at 7:40 p.m. Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Sunday, February 9

Cheap Trick is a quintessential ’70s rock band and a staple on the classic rock touring circuit.. They sang “Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird, surrender …” for their big hit “Surrender.” Other highly successful songs are  “I Want You to Want Me,” and “The Flame.” Cheap Trick formed in Rockford, Illinois, in 1973. Cheap trick was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, and crew’s most recent releases are 2017’s We’re All Alright! And Christmas Christmas. Rookie opens. 8 p.m. Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Friday, February 14

Progressive heavy metal band Queensryche 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 Queensrcyche—with two different bands touring under the name—all legal matters have been settled and the band (only one) is touring again. Isn’t rock ‘n roll grand! The band is touring in support of their latest album, 2019’s The Verdict. John 5 and Eve to Adam open. 8 p.m. Roxian Theatre, 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (RH) 

Since Pittsburgh is a soulful city there’s often a soul-music group as headliners at local festivals and events. Some will remember Durand Jones & The Indications being a featured musical act at First Night Pittsburgh 2019. Hailed as intriguing newcomers on the soul revival scene, they’re skilled musicians—Jones and other core members met as students at Indiana University’s music conservatory—and many of their original numbers feature dual lead vocals, with drummer Aaron Frazer joining Jones in that regard. Jones and band are touring in support of their latest album release, American Love Call. Y La Bamba opens. 8p.m. Spirit Hall, 242 51st St., Lawrenceville. (MV, RH)

Sunday, February 16

Boyz II Men are originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and best known for beautiful vocal harmonies in their love ballads. They hit the charts with “I’ll Make Love to You” and “End of the Road” in the early 1990’s. “End of the Road” set a new record for weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number one, thirteen weeks. This broke the old record previously set by Elvis Presley. After breaking the record they set two new ones with “I’ll Make Love to You” and “One Sweet Day” (with Mariah Carey). They have continued to tour and record over the ensuing decades and even finding time to make a TV commercial or two. One for Geico shows that even unpleasant medication side effects can sound better when sung by silky smooth Boyz II Men. 7 p.m. Sold out. Rivers Casino, 777 Casino Dr., North Shore. (RH)

Boyz II Men performing on Walmart Soundcheck in 2011. (photo: Wikipedia and Lunchbox LP)

Boyz II Men performing on Walmart Soundcheck in 2011. (photo: Wikipedia and Lunchbox LP)

Wednesday, February 19

The Grammy Award-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band plays UPMC Events Center. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks are band mates and a married couple. They formed the band in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2010 after both had already tasted career success. Trucks was a member of the Allman Brothers for a number of years, fronted his own band, and worked on projects with many musicians, including Eric Clapton. He’s known as one of the guitar greats and was ranked No. 16 on Rolling Stone‘s list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2011. Before becoming a headliner of her own, Susan Tedeschi opened for top acts like B.B. King, Bob Dylan, and even the Allman Brothers (that’s how they met in 1999). Known for her pleasant vocals, she is a respected guitarist in her own right. The Tedeschi Trucks Band has been nominated for two Grammy Awards and won one in 2012 for the album Revelator. Before flying the banner of Tedeschi Trucks Band, the two collaborated in their previous band, Soul Stew Revival. Their soulful, blues-rock 12-piece band is a big reason for their success. Their latest LP release is 2019’s Signs. Opening is The National Reserve. 6001 University Blvd., RMU, Moon Township. (RH)

Monday, February 24

Clad in a magenta suit, Post Malone rang in 2020 alongside Ryan Seacrest and K-pop group BTS at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. Minutes earlier, he performed “Circles” and “Congratulations.” (And a few days later, he got a new face tattoo.) The party continues in February at PPG Paints Arena, where he will headline. Born Austin Richard Post, the singer blends rock with cloud rap for a heady sound, such as on “Wow.” Other popular songs include his collaboration with rapper Swae Lee for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: “Sunflower.” Another collaboration includes a remix of Lorde’s song “Homemade Dynamite” with SZA and Khalid. His latest album is 2019’s Hollywood’s Bleeding. This was preceded by 2018’s Beerbongs & Bentleys. It broke the record for most songs simultaneously in the top 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100 with nine total. Swae Lee, who is one half of Rae Sremmurd (of “Black Beatles” fame), and Tyla Yaweh open. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (CM)

Tuesday, February 25

Denver-based and Americana-tinged folk rockers The Lumineers opened for U2 in 2017. They played a fun and well-received set of their hits, including “Ho Hey,” “Cleopatra,” and “Stubborn Love.” The Lumineers, in support of their third album, titled III, now headline PPG Paints Arena. Guitarist/singer Wesley Schultz and drummer Jeremiah Fraites started playing together in New Jersey after Josh Fraites, the brother of Jeremiah and best friend of Schultz, died of a drug overdose in 2001. They relocated to Denver in 2009, and cellist/vocalist Neyla Pekarek, after responding to their ad on Craigslist, joined in 2010. She left the group in 2018 to pursue a solo career. The Lumineers were nominated for Grammy Awards in the Best New Artist and Best Americana Album categories in 2013. Mt. Joy and JS Ondara open. 7 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (RH, CM)

Other Suggested Shows

Saturday, February 1

Roots of Creation, who hail from New Hampshire, performed as part of last year’s Rock, Reggae, & Relief Festival in Market Square. (The proceeds benefited the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance through the Piatt Family Foundation.) Their latest album is 2018’s Grateful Dub, a covers album of Grateful Dead songs done in a reggae-dub style, such as “Fire on the Mountain.” They are performing the album in its entirety while on tour. See them at the Thunderbird Café & Music Hall. 8 p.m. 4053 Butler St., Lawrenceville. (CM)

Rave Ami, a local rock power trio, is celebrating 10 years with a concert at Mr. Smalls Theatre. The band’s sophomore album is 2018’s All Great Bands Break Up. They dropped a grunge-y single, “Or Alike,” the following year. Helping with the celebration is the Weird Paul Rock Band, fronted by the irreverent and bowlcut Weird Paul himself. String Machine and Good Sport also open. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Monday, February 3

The doctor is in this February at the Roxian TheatreDr. Dog that is. The group hails from West Grove, Pennsylvania, and it specializes in rock music with strong crystalline vocals and tight harmonies, such as those that can be heard on “Broken Heart.” 2018’s Critical Equation is the band’s latest release. Michael Nau opens. 8 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (EC, CM)

Wednesday, February 5

Clarence Greenwood, a.k.a. Citizen Cope, is a one-man musical juicing machine. The Washington, D.C.-based singer/songwriter takes an assortment of styles—soul, funk, rock, hip-hop, and occasional folk and blues—and blends them together. The mixture is always as fine and silky as a smoothie. (Just listen to “Bullet and a Target.”) Cope’s latest album is 2019’s Heroin and Helicopters. 8 p.m. Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. (RH, CM)

Saturday, February 8

Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors bring their lively brand of jam rock to Rivers Casino. Most appropriately, they will be performing in the Drum Bar. Donovan and the band’s latest album is 2018’s We See Through It. They describe their new work by saying, “It illustrates the transformational power of music. Featuring ten songs that span genres and eras ̧ the sound of the new album blends the vintage rock sound of Zeppelin with the alternative folk of Mumford & Sons propelled by barreling drums.” Songs from the album, like have been garnering a lot of airplay in Pittsburgh and beyond. The band’s prior release was 2016’s Sun King Warriors. 9 p.m. 777 Casino Dr., North Shore. (RH)

Saturday, February 15

The Cadillac Three played the ‘Burgh last May with Charlie Daniels and Travis Tritt on the Outlaws and Renegades tour. The group is composed of three members—Jaren Johnston (lead vocals, guitar), Kelby Ray (bass guitar, steel guitar, vocals), and Neil Mason (drums, vocals)—who play Southern rock. Their latest effort, Country Fuzz, drops on February 3. The band’s fun rock sound is evident on songs like “Crackin’ Cold Ones with the Boys.” Boy Named Banjo opens. 8 p.m. Mr. Smalls Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (RH)

Sunday, February 16

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 beat goes on in a show at The Palace Theatre. 3 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Monday, February 17

Jake Shimabukuro went viral when someone posted a video of him performing a cover of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on the ukulele. 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—16 million and counting. His albums are a mix of originals and covers with a Hawaiian sensibility coloring all of them. His album with Nolan Verner and Dave Preston, titled Trio, will be released in February. See him live at The Oaks Theater. 8 p.m. 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. (CM)

Friday, February 21

Cécile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner will perform at MCG Jazz. The two collaborated on Salvant’s 2018 album, The Window, which won the 2019 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Salvant is a jazz vocalist from Miami, and Fortner is a jazz pianist from New Orleans. Here they are in Paris performing John Lennon’s “Oh My Love.” 7 and 9:30 p.m. 1815 Metropolitan St., Manchester. (CM) 

Saturday, February 22

Brittney Chantele describes herself on her Twitter page as a singer-songwriter/visual artist/dancer/activist/ and as an organizer of Earth Guardians PA. I haven’t seen her work in the other areas, but I have seen her perform, and Chantele is very talented. In her performances, Chantele’s been playing the hot track “Fade and the Balance” off her last release, A Fire on Venus, to the delight of many fans. She will be holding an album release party at Thunderbird Café & Music Hall for A Golden Opportunity, with songs dealing with her time in the military. DJ QRX, Saïd, and Treble NLS (a co-writer on her new album) will also be performing. 8 p.m. 4053 Butler St., Lawrenceville. (RH) 

Sunday, February 23

Gaelic Storm, who will soon blow into Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, became one of the world’s most popular Irish bands overnight when they were featured in the blockbuster of blockbusters, Titanic. The group was seen entertaining the third-class passengers in the ship’s steerage section. Since then, they have maintained their place as one of the  leading ambassadors of all things Irish, recording every famous Celtic song there is and writing a few of their own. The band, however, strangely has had difficulty keeping a fiddler for more than a few years, that position apparently being to them what the drummer is to Spinal Tap (minus the spontaneous combustion, of course). However, Katie Grennan has in recent years solidified that position. Their most recent album is 2017’s Go Climb a Tree. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (EC, RH)

Monday, February 24

Formed by a bunch of New York City comic book store employees in 1981, The Toasters may have done more than anyone to transform ska from the Jamaican-ized take on American R&B of the ’60s into the fierce, jumpy, punk subgenre it is today. They did this not just through their own discography but from the swell of bands that signed with their Moon Ska Records, the first U.S. label specializing in ska. Their last album was 2011’s 2Tone Army. Club Cafe has the honor of hosting the Toasters as the marquee act, with iNCO fIDO and Fubar supporting. 8 p.m. 56 – 58 South 12th St., South Side. (RH, CM)

Saturday, February 29

If you have ever watched the first five minutes of a “Mad Men” episode, then you have heard the music of Ramble Jon Krohn, who goes by RJD2. The hit AMC series begins with an instrumental version of “A Beautiful Mine.” The original version appears on Magnificent City, a studio album by rapper Aceyalone accompanied by RJD2, who produced the release. Krohn grew up not far from Pittsburgh—Columbus, Ohio—and has spent much of his professional life in Philadelphia. He released an album, Tendrils, in 2018 under the moniker the Insane Warrior. RJD2 will perform at Mr. Smalls Theatre. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Brooke Annibale is known for her acoustic, pop-folk sound, which she started developing from a very young age. At 17, she cut her first album, and for her senior project at Moon Area High School, she staged a concert with the proceeds benefiting UNICEF. Several of her songs have been used on TV series, including “One Tree Hill” and “The Vampire Diaries.” Her latest album is 2018’s Hold to the Light, which contains the song “Hold On.” She will perform at the Thunderbird Café & Music Hall. Anna Vogelzang opens. 8 p.m. 4053 Butler St., Lawrenceville. (CM, RH)

On the Radar

Wednesday, March 4
Sturgill Simpson (Petersen Events Center)
Ashley McBryde (Mr. Smalls Theatre)

Friday, March 6
Bear Hands (Stage AE)
Dweezil Zappa (Jergel’s Rhythm Grille)
The Clarks (The Lamp Theatre)

Saturday, March 7
Of Montreal (Mr. Smalls Theatre)
Dashboard Confessional (Stage AE)
River City Brass Celtic Connections IV (Palace Theatre)
Crack the Sky (Jergel’s Rhythm Grille)
The Clarks (The Lamp Theatre)

Monday, March 9
The Chieftains (Heinz Hall)

Tuesday, March 10
Squirrel Nut Zippers (Jergel’s Rhythm Grille)

Wednesday, March 11 and Thursday, March 12
Caroline Rose (Club Cafe)

Thursday, March 12
Howard Jones Acoustic Trio (Jergel’sRhythm Grille)
Twin Peaks (Mr. Smalls Theatre)

Friday, March 13
Celine Dion (PPG Paints Arena)
Mark Dignam (Club Cafe)
O.A.R. (Roxian Theatre)
Robert Cray (Palace Theatre)

Saturday, March 14
The Silencers (Jergel’s Rhythm Grille)
Bastard Bearded Irishmen and Friends (Rex Theater)
Consider the Source (Thunderbird Café & Music Hall)

Sunday, March 15
Little Anthony and The Imperials (Palace Theatre)

Monday, March 16
Nathaniel Rateliff (Byham Theater)

Tuesday, March 17
Ploguhman’s Lunch Reunion (Thunderbird Café & Music Hall)

Wednesday, March 18
Against Me! (Mr. Smalls Theatre)

Thursday, March 19
Red Hot Chili Pipers (Jergel’s Rhythm Grille)
Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass (Byham Theater)
Railroad Earth (Rex Theater)
Josh Ritter (Carnegie Lecture Hall, Oakland)

Friday, March 20
Mandy Moore (Benedum Center)
The Millennium Tour feat. Omarion, Bow Wow, and Ashanti (Petersen Events Center)

Saturday, March 21
Rhett Miller (Club Cafe)

Sunday, March 22
A Bowie Celebration (Bowie Alumni Play ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘Diamond Dogs’) (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall)

Monday, March 23
Dillon Francis x Yung Gravy (Stage AE)

Wednesday, March 25
Guster (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall)

Thursday, March 26
Reba McEntire (PPG Paints Arena)
Billy Price Band and Bill Toms & Hard Rain (Jergel’s Rhythm Grille)

Friday, March 27
CAAMP (Mr. Smalls Theatre)
Ann Hampton Callaway and Tierney Sutton (MCG Jazz)

Sunday, March 29
Jame McMurtry (Club Cafe)

Christopher Maggio is a Pittsburgh-based writer and editor.