February ’19 Concert Guide: Blake Shelton, Tesla, Lotus, Michael Bublé, Disturbed, and Sarah Brightman

Disturbed in concert in 2016. (photo: Stefan Brending and Wikipedia)

Disturbed in concert in 2016. (photo: Stefan Brending and Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh area concerts this month offer interesting acts in several different genres. The biggest performers are Blake Shelton, Michael Bublé, and hard rockers, Disturbed. All bringing their different sounds to PPG Paints Arena. With Valentine’s day in the middle of February there’s some good romantic concerts to be enjoyed. In addition to Bublé, couples seeking romantic tunes can also enjoy the music of the amazing Sarah Brightman, and Jim Brickman. 

Some rising acts in concert this month include St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Dillon Francis, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, and Lotus, who play two nights at Mr. Smalls. Classic artists include America, Three Dog Night, Tommy James and The Shondells, Tesla, and Quiet Riot. Noted alt-rocker Bob Mould performs this month at Mr. Smalls. We also have the Havana, Cuba All Stars visiting the ‘Burgh in February.

On the hometown heroes front: Ryan Hoffman and The Pioneers are at Club Cafe, and Bill Toms and Hard Rain play Moondog’s. Get out there and beat the winter blues and blahs with some great live music.

Friday, February 1

“Come on feel the noise/Girls rock your boys/We’ll get wild, wild, wild!” is the raucous call to action in the Quiet Riot song “Cum on Feel the Noize.” The band rocked not only the girlz, but also the boyz in their 1983 hit that rose to No. 5 on the Single’s chart and No. 7 on the Rock chart. The Los Angeles, California band reportedly got their name when they misheard British rocker Rick Parfitt say he wanted to name a band Quite Right. The name has been good for Quiet Riot although there’s not much that’s quiet about them. The glam rock group generates a loud melodic sound based on talented guitar and drum play along with strong lead vocals. Their latest release in 2017’s Road Rage. 8 p.m. Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (RH)

Thursday, February 7

Greensky Bluegrass will perform at Stage AE in support of this year’s All For Money. Ironic because if you’re in a bluegrass band in 2019, chances are you aren’t in it for money. Still, Greensky Bluegrass has done pretty well for itself. Its previous album, 2016’s Shouted, Written Down & Quoted, peaked at number three on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart, and the album before that, 2014’s If Sorrows Swim, went to number one. The band has sold out venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. Greensky Bluegrass began as a trio in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2000, and it has since swelled to a quintet. No drummer in this band; instead get ready for banjo, bass, dobro, guitar, and mandolin. Its live shows are known for fantastic light displays. Billy Strings open. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Tuesday, February 12

Tesla formed in Sacramento, California, in the 1980s and was originally called City Kidd. However, their manager didn’t like the name, plus there was another band with that name, so they found inspiration from inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. The band really hit its stride in the early ’90s with a tight group, the rich vocals of Jeff Keith, and the ability to craft some popular power ballads. Breaking up in 1996 and reuniting in 2000, the band remains popular and continues to create new works.  They are touring in advance of their new album Shock. It will be released on March 8 and was produced by Phil Collen of Def Leppard. Tesla’s best known songs include “Love Song,” “What You Give,” and “Signs.” The band has sold over 25 million albums. Opening is The Cringe and Year of the Locust. 7:30 p.m. The Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Tesla performing in Poughkeepsie, New York in 2009. (photo: LindaLisa and Wikipedia).

Tesla performing in Poughkeepsie, New York in 2009. (photo: LindaLisa and Wikipedia).

Sarah Brightman is a very talented British singer (soprano) and actor who worked on her craft early as a student at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. She got her first big role at the age of 13 playing one of Queen Victoria’s daughters in I and Albert. She was even in a couple of disco bands and then had success in the play Cats. She met Andrew Lloyd Webber, they married, and he cast her in his The Phantom of the Opera as the female lead, Christine Daaé. Brightman and Webber separated a few years later and she has gone on to have a very successful solo career including her own PBS specials and numerous duets with other top artists. Brightman also won a Grammy Award in 1986 for Best New Classical artist. She is touring in support of her latest album Hymn which was released in November.  Special guests are Vincent Niclo and Narcis Iustin Ianău. 8 p.m. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (RH)

Sarah Brightman performing in China in 2007. (photo: Jiaz and Wikipedia)

Sarah Brightman performing in China in 2007. (photo: Jiaz and Wikipedia)

Thursday, February 14

Pop-rock blasters Tommy James and the Shondells got their start in Niles, Michigan, but their big breaks came right here in the Pittsburgh area. Unknown to James, his group’s early and near-forgotten cover of “Hanky Panky” became a hit at local dance clubs in 1965—and from there, long story short, it was onward to stardom with late-’60s singles such as “Mony Mony,” “Crimson and Clover,” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” James and the Shondells have kept on rocking through personnel changes and changing times. 8 p.m.  The Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (MV)

Friday, February 15 and Saturday, February 16

Lotus loves playing shows in Pittsburgh, oftentimes back-to-back. The jam band performed January 30 and 31, 2016 at Stage AE, and then it played a single show there on January 31, 2017. Although Pigeons Playing Ping Pong helped Pittsburghers usher in 2019, Lotus is back, this time with two shows again, and this time at Mr. Smalls. Lotus, originally from Indiana, is known for incorporating electronic elements into its music. On 2016’s Eat the Light, the group tried something new: vocals, with a different guest musician on every track. In concert, the band uses elaborate lighting and occasionally performs themed shows. One 2009 concert saw David Bowie costumes. The band plays covers as well as originals during themed shows. 2018’s Frames Per Second is Lotus’s latest album. El Ten Eleven opens. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Saturday February 16

Rock ‘n’ roll promotes good health. This has been scientifically proven by the remarkable number of bands from the 1960s-70s that are still active and touring, many of them with multiple original or longtime members. Among these bands, one of the most noteworthy is Three Dog Night, because the type of rock performed by Three Dog Night is particularly conducive to wellness: It’s feel-good rock. After all, the group’s de facto anthem is the song called “Joy to the World.” Other top hits, such as “Shambala” (above), also combine happiness-oriented lyrics with beats that are decidedly upbeat. Even spooky numbers like “Mama Told Me Not to Come” are delivered in a festive fashion. In short, these guys never met a song they couldn’t have fun with, and you can see for yourself when Three Dog Night visits the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. (MV)

Tuesday, February 19

St. Paul and the Broken Bones closed the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival with a roar heard ’round the Point in 2017. St. Paul (née Paul Janeway) sings with a Sam Cooke-esque range and depth of soul. The Broken Bones, resplendent with horns, further lift his voice. The band is based in Birmingham, Alabama, and has released three albums, most recently 2018’s Young Sick Camellia. Sharp songwriting matches the moving instrumentation. “Crumbling Light Posts, Pt. 1,” “Pt. 2,” and “Pt. 3,” from 2016’s Sea of Noise, allude to a Winston Churchill quote. St. Paul and the Broken Bones have toured around the world and have played the mother of all opening gigs: playing before the Rolling Stones. They will perform at Stage AE. Valley Queen opens. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Bob Mould will perform at Mr. Smalls in support of his new solo album, Sunshine Rock. Mould sang, played guitar, and wrote songs in Hüsker Dü, one of the great ’80s underground rock bands, right up there with R.E.M. and the Replacements. Hüsker Dü formed in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1979. Key entries into the trio’s discography include 1984’s punk rock opera Zen Arcade and 1985’s New Day Rising. (Mould sings in a lower, more jagged timbre, such as on “Celebrated Summer.” The late Grant Hart, who played drums and also wrote songs in Hüsker Dü, sang in a higher, more melodic register.) Hüsker Dü broke up in 1988 amid drug use, creative differences, and the suicide of the band’s manager. Mould released his first solo album, Workbook, in 1989. He later formed another trio, Sugar, in 1992. Murder for Girls, a great Pittsburgh group hot off the release of its sophomore LP, 2017’s All the Pretty Stars, open. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Wednesday, February 20

Disturbed, a heavy metal band rising out of Chicago, Illinois in the mid-nineties, has seven studio albums, five of which opened at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. The latest release from the group was 2018’s Evolution. Lead vocalist David Draiman says the group has been heavily influenced by classic metal bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, and Pantera. Disturbed even has a mascot called The Guy, that over the years has morphed into more of a Marvel Comics-looking character. The band has been nominated for a Grammy Award twice in the categories of Best Hard Rock Performance and Best Rock Performance. And in 2006 they were nominated for a Billboard Music Award for Rock Artist of the Year. You can experience Disturbed at PPG Paints Arena. Also on the bill is Three Days Grace. 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (RH)

Thursday, February 21

Did you know that all three members of America grew up in England? The trio met in high school in London in the ’60s, all three the sons of British mothers and American military fathers. They took on the moniker “America” as a rather on-the-nose way of signaling their preferred national identities while playing clubs across the pond. The group will long be remembered for the iconic “A Horse with No Name,” and other songs like “Ventura Highway” and “You Can Do Magic.” Those  songs represents only a tiny fraction of the group’s musical library, which spans over 30 albums and five decades. The band’s last studio album was 2015’s Lost & Found.  8 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 6th Ave. Cultural District. (EC, RH)

Friday, February 22

Multi-Grammy Award-winning vocalist Michael Buble’ takes the stage at PPG Paints Arena this month. Buble’, a Canadian export whose 2007 album Call Me Irresponsible,  rose to the No.1 spot on the Canadian, American, British, Australian and several other album charts, is a popular world-wide performer. His music touches bases in several different genres including pop, jazz, easy listening, and soul. In addition to his four Grammy Awards Bublé has won several Juno Awards. Last November he released his 10th studio album, Love (denoted by a heart illustration). Bublé was quoted in an interview in October saying his Love album would be his last and he would be stepping out of the spotlight. After that article was published his record company released a statement that those comments were falsely reported. His latest tour is aptly named, Don’t believe the Rumors Tour. Also look for Bublé in a Super Bowl commercial this year. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (RH)

Saturday, February 23

Blake Shelton‘s background pegs him a genuine old-school country boy. Born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma, he learned to pick and sing from family members, then at 17 moved directly from Ada to Nashville. But Shelton also typifies the cutting-edge modern face of country music—open to eclectic influences, and reaching out to all audiences, as he tried to illustrate in his famous video of “Boys ‘Round Here” (above). In songs like “Sangria” and “Neon Light,” he mixes traditional country themes with new musical touches. And Shelton makes all his tunes work by virtue of how naturally he comes across. With a fine natural singing voice and an easy, engaging manner, he doesn’t have to shout or showboat to bring life to a song; he just brings himself. A multiple Grammy winner and Grand Ole Opry member, Shelton was named the Country Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year five years in a row.  He is also a judge on the NBC singing competition show “The Voice” and the boyfriend of Gwen Stefani. 2017’s Texoma Shore is Shelton’s latest studio album. This is Shelton’s Friends and Heroes Tour featuring Bellamy Brothers, John Anderson, Trace Adkins, and Lauren Alaina. 7 p.m.  PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (MV, RH)

Dillon Francis, an EDM artist from Los Angeles, headlined Music X Arts, formerly the two-day Thrival Music, at Highmark Stadium in September 2018. Now he and Alison Wonderland, an EDM artist from Sydney, Australia, will co-headline a show at Stage AE. Wonderland (née Alexandra Sholler) adopted her stage name as a pun on Lewis Carroll’s classic book. She released her debut LP, Run, in 2015, and she followed it with 2018’s Awake. Songs such as “U Don’t Know,” which features Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, will certainly make you feel as if you have fallen through the looking glass. Francis has also released two LPs, 2014’s Money Sucks, Friends Rule and 2018’s Wut Wut, plus numerous singles. His compositions often fall under a subgenre of EDM, the relatively new “moombahton.” If you like beeps, boops, and dancing, then this concert is for you. Special guest is Diablo. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Wednesday, February 27

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)

Thursday, February 28

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 though. Grey hails from Jacksonville, Florida, and his home is his maternal grandmother and grandfather’s former chicken farm. It now houses a recording studio. He formed Mofro in the late ’90s, and their debut album was 2001’s Blackwater. 2015’s Ol’ Glory is their latest album. They have a good thing going with Pittsburgh: JJ Grey & Mofro headlined the Pittsburgh Blues Festival in 2014, and this February, they play Mr. Smalls. Rachel Lynne opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Country singer-songwriter Rodney Atkins closed the Three Rivers Regatta in 2016, and he returns to Pittsburgh for a concert at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille.  Atkins was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and he released his first album, Honesty, in 2003. If You’re Going Through Hell followed in 2006. The album’s first single, “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows),” charted at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Atkins had five more number-one singles after that, all of which appeared on a greatest hits album, released in 2015. However, his last studio album was 2011’s Take a Back Road. He did put out a new song in 2018, “Caught Up in the Country,” with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an African-American a cappella ensemble from Fisk University, on backing vocals. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (CM)

Several Other Suggested Shows

Friday, February 1

Ryan Hoffman and the Pioneers describe their sound as a “harken back to narrative songwriting, brought to life by modern synth folk arrangements.” To hear this intriguing musical description in action simply listen to songs such as “Underground” from their just released debut album, In the Alps. The band is composed of Ryan Hoffman (vocals, guitar), Amy Linette (vocals, sax, guitar), Brad Collins (guitar, bass. vocals), and Mike Smales (drums, vocals). They are opening for another Pittsburgh indie-rock band Flashpoint Run. 8 p.m., Club Cafe, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (RH)

Tuesday, February 5

Looking for some hot music to heat things up? Then look no further than Asere! A fiesta Cubana featuring musicians and dancers of the Havana Cuba All-Stars. The show is a celebration of the diverse and joyous music and dance styles of Cuba. They  will play “rhythms and melodies from the cha cha to the rumba, from “Son Cubano” style to the salsa” interpreted through a fresh approach to their heritage. 7:30 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District. (RH)

Saturday, February 9

Bill Toms and Hard Rain with the Soulville Horns will be rockin’ out Moondog’s for a combination birthday party for Toms and Steve BinsbergerToms’ slightly raspy, deeply soulful voice and his guitar playing prowess combine with the drums, horns, and rest of the band to create a hot rock sound. Their latest release is Good For My Soul. The band also recorded a concert last year at Club Cafe, so look for a live album or some live tracks to come out sometime in the future. 8 p.m.  Moondog’s, 578 Freeport Rd., Blawnox. (RH)

Thursday, February 14

Jim Brickman is a platinum selling adult contemporary musician who’s originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio. He’s also a two-time Grammy-nominated musician and is well-known from several concerts he did on PBS TV. Brickman has collaborated with many recording artists including Martina McBride on “Valentine.” His special performance on Valentine’s Day is being called Share the Love, it promises to be an evening of entertaining and romantic music.  7:30 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District. (RH)

Sunday, February 17

Taking their name from a Chinese political faction that included Chairman Mao’s wife, Gang of Four combines punk instrumentation, Marxist lyrics, and a dance beat. Andy Gill played the “anti-guitar” solo, during which he would drop out entirely and let the drums and bass carry on, as he does on the brilliant “Not Great Men.” The quartet formed in 1977 in Leeds, England, and released its debut album, Entertainment!, in 1979. New album, HAPPY NOW, will be released in March. Catch them at Mr. Smalls. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Wednesday, February 20

Lucero is a country-punk outfit, which formed in Memphis in 1998. 2015’s All a Man Should Do was the band’s first album to include a cover song, “I’m in Love with a Girl” by Big Star. Jody Stephens, the last surviving original member of Big Star, sings backing vocals. 2018’s Among the Ghosts is Lucero’s latest album. Paul Luc (pronounced “Luke”), a Pittsburgh-based indie singer-songwriter, opens the show at Mr. Smalls. Luc released Bad Seed in 2018. Songs from Bad Seed include the cathartic opener, “Restless Mind.” 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Friday, February 22

Color Me Badd, a boy band/pop R&B group formed in 1985 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is best known for the hits “I Wanna Sex You Up” and “All 4 Love.” The group has sold in excess of 12 million records worldwide, had three No. 1 singles, and nine Top 40 hits. Their album C.M.B. achieved  triple-platinum sales status. 8 p.m. Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (RH)

Sunday, February 24

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, a solo project for rock vocalist and pianist McMahon, will perform at Stage AE. 2018’s Upside Down Flowers is his latest album with lead-off single “Ohio.” He previously fronted both the successful rock bands Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin. Flor and Grizfolk open. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Wednesday, February 27

Switchfoot, an alternative rock quintet from San Diego, California, digs deep when writing songs. Listen to the cathartic opening track to this year’s Native Tongue, “Let It Happen.” Switchfoot will perform at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. Hello Hurricane, the group’s seventh LP, won a Grammy for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album in 2011. Colony House and Tyson Motsenbocker open. 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. (CM)

Thursday, February 28

Electronic music duo The Crystal Method began in Las Vegas in 1993. The group, started by Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, is known for its big beats. Songs such as “Trip Like I Do” are popular in the group’s live sets. The Crystal Method has six studio albums out with the latest being 2018’s The Trip Home. Jordan retired from music in 2017, but Kirkland is continuing to use the band name. 8 p.m. Foxtail, 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. (RH)

On the Radar

Saturday, March 2
Wiz Khalifa (Stage AE)

Saturday, March 9
Casting Crowns (PPG)

Thursday, March 14
Mumford & Sons (PPG)

Friday, March 15
Alabama (PPG)
Graham Nash (CHMH)

Saturday, March 16
Winger (Jergel’s)
Joe Bonamassa (Benedum)

Monday, March 18
Mariah Carey (Benedum)

Tuesday, March 19
Celtic Women (Benedum)

Wednesday, March 20
Gary Clark Jr. (Benedum)

Sunday, March 24
Jukebox the Ghost (Mr. Smalls)

Saturday, March 30
Kiss (PPG)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central. Christopher Maggio made substantial contributions to this guide. Mike Vargo also contributed.