January can be a cold and slow month, both weather-wise and music-wise. However, we’re fortunate to have some top performers coming through Pittsburgh this month—Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, The J. Geils Band, The Outlaws, Maceo Parker, Linkin Park, Gladys Knight, The Spinners, and Lotus. Stir in a few very unique acts—That1Guy, Marilyn Manson, and John “Dr. Dirty” Valby—and it makes for an interesting month. Quieter months also allow the spotlight to be deservedly shone on talented regional bands like Donora, Daily Grind, Grand Bell, Murder for Girls, The Park Plan, Lyndsey Smith & Soul Distribution, Rachel B and the groups playing Strip District Music Fest. There are many other great shows, but our space is limited. Enjoy the music!
Thursday, January 8
With a Lyndsey Smith & Soul Distribution / Rachel B double bill, it’s a good night for soul and R&B at Club Cafe. Smith and her band are entering the new year with plenty to be proud of: grand prize in Drusky Entertainment’s “On The Verge” Battle of the Bands, opening for Tower of Power and other national acts, headlining plenty of sold-out shows. Oh, and a funky EP, titled Soul Distribution. Not to be outdone, Rachel B self-released her debut EP, I’m the Boss, and her music could be heard on an episode of ABC’s General Hospital. She recently headlined a 10-city tour and has played venues like Chicago Symphony Hall and Berklee Performance Center. Yinz better bring your dancing shoes. 8 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side.
Friday, January 9
John “Dr. Dirty” Valby is playing his dirty songs and filthy limericks live at the Altar Bar. His album titles have included: Greatest Tits, Sit on a Happy Face, Herniated Jingle Balls—and the titles grow even raunchier from there. No audience is safe. For a debauchery-filled good time, the “Doctor” has just the prescription for you. 10:15 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District.
Sunday, January 11
That1Guy is just that—one guy. His real name is Mike Silverman, and his instrument, The Magic Pipe, redefines the concept of the one-man band. Sprinkle in some esoteric lyrics and a churning baritone, and you’ve got one guy who could give Beck a run for his money, both in originality and sheer weirdness. He tours relentlessly and is a fixture on the international festival circuit (Electric Forest, Big Day Out, Montreal Jazz Festival, just to name a few). He plays Club Cafe tonight. Additionally, he has won the Tap Water Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for best musical act. His collaborations with Buckethead as The Frankenstein Brothers cement That1Guy as one of the most freakish men in music today. Freakishly awesome, that is. DJ Feels Goodman opens. 8 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side.
Wednesday, January 14
Forget a Caribbean cruise, tonight Bahamas sails to Club Cafe. Like Cat Power and Nine Inch Nails, Bahamas is the project of a single person—Afie Jurvanen. As if to clear any ambiguity, Jurvanen titled his third album Bahamas is Afie. Like previous Bahamas releases, the album features a laid-back folk sound. The music is reminiscent of sandy beaches and tropical breezes, a far cry from Jurvanen’s hometown of Barrie in rural Ontario, Canada. Pre-Bahamas, Jurvanen worked as a touring guitarist for Feist. As Bahamas, he has opened for Wilco and played SXSW. He also recently appeared on Conan and is part of 91.3 WYEP’s rotation. Field Report opens. 8 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side.
Thursday, January 15
Southern rock finds its way north at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille 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.” Outlaw trademarks include beautiful vocal harmonies and intricate lead guitar play. 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 get better with age. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale.
Friday, January 16
The “Reverend” is in town. The Reverend Horton Heat, that is. The Reverend is Dallas-based musician Jim Heath, plus his band. Their music has been described as “psychobilly,” with influences of surf, rock, big band, punk, country and several other musical genres, making for an eclectic, energetic fusion. The Reverend’s service begins at Altar Bar. Assisting in the service are: Robert Gordon, Dale Watson and Rosie Flores. 8:30 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District.
Master funkateer and saxophonist Maceo Parker played with two of the biggest in the genre— James Brown and George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic. Parker has recorded 16 albums of his own and has played on over 80 other albums, running the gamut of music history from the aforementioned Brown and Clinton to Prince, Bootsy Collins, Keith Richards, De La Soul, Dave Matthews, and Ani DiFranco. He plays alto, tenor and baritone sax. Parker’s signature sound can be heard on videos like “Shake Everything You’ve Got.” 98% Funky Stuff: My Life in Music is the title of Parker’s autobiography. 8 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District.
Saturday, January 17
Created as a way to promote local music during a typically slow time of year, Strip District Music Fest is sure to alleviate your seasonal affective disorder. Like your Celtic music infused with some speed? Try Bastard Bearded Irishmen. Want rock n’ roll that’s ridiculously awesome? Watch Gene the Werewolf. Prefer classical music with a kick? Seek Cello Fury. None of these your preferred genre? No worries, the festival also includes Badboxes, Dethlehem, Good Brother Earl, Identity X, Kevin Garrett, The Spacepimps, and 80 plus local bands spread over 14 hours and 11 venues. These venues include old standards like Altar Bar as well as non-traditional spots like the Beerhive and Pittsburgh Winery. Although the event is FREE, patrons are encouraged to donate to artists that they like through the festival’s official website. Proceeds are split 50/50 between the artists and promoter. This can be done via smartphone during the show. 12 p.m.-2 a.m. Penn Ave./Smallman St., The Strip District.
Tuesday, January 20
Rising out of Agoura Hills, California, Linkin Park became the biggest rock group in the world with their monster debut album, Hybrid Theory. The album achieved Diamond sales status and spawned hits like “In the End.” Another of the band’s top songs is “Burn it Down,” from their fifth studio album, ’12’s Living Things. Linkin Park’s sound is derivative—like AC/DC before them—of being able to rock very hard while still retaining melody and great rhythm. They are touring in support of their latest album, The Hunting Party. Special guests are Rise Against and Of Mice & Men. 7 p.m. Consol Energy Center, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown.
Thursday, January 22
Bob Seger enjoyed regional success playing the bars and venues in the Detroit region in the ’60s, and then in ’73, he put together the Silver Bullet Band. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band took off with the release of albums Live Bullet in ’75 followed the next year with Night Moves. When the song “Night Moves” hit the radio in ’76, Seger and his band were on the fast track to major league music success. The song charted as high as no. 4 on the Billboard charts. Seger’s sound features his pleasingly smokey voice, interesting lyrics, all laid upon a solid foundation of piano, guitar and drums. The soundtrack of many Americans’ lives is peppered with such Seger songs as “Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” “Main Street,” “Old Time Rock and Roll” (used in the Tom Cruise film Risky Business), “Beautiful Loser,” “Turn the Page,” and “Like a Rock” (used in Chevy truck TV commercials).
The J. Geils Band used to call themselves “the funkiest band in the land,” and that sure was true with albums like the live recording “Blow Your Face Out.” Bloodshot—the band’s fourth album, released in ’73—was pressed using red vinyl instead of black, which made for a colorful rotation on the turntable. They started out as a funky rock band led by J.Geils, who has since left the band, and then turned into a synth rock, new wave band in the early ’80s—reaching their pinnacle with the no. 1 hit “Centerfold” in ’82. Their new wave sound was great but their earlier rock work with Peter Wolf singing, Magic Dick on harmonica, and a steady thrashing of drums, guitars, keyboards and bass could outshine many bands. This concert is a fantastic opportunity to see some true classic rock performers in action. 7:30 p.m. Consol Energy Center, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown.
Friday, January 23
Lotus, like the jam bands which came before them, tour relentlessly, averaging around 100 shows per year. They are no strangers to Pittsburgh and even played the Three Rivers Arts Festival back in ’08. The five-piece, originally from Indiana, are known for incorporating electronic elements into their music. Their new album, Gilded Age, finds them nostalgic for straight-up jam rock. (Nostalgia acts as a major theme in Gilded Age, hence the title.) The band uses elaborate lighting in their concerts and occasionally performs themed shows. One concert saw David Bowie costumes; another, Willie Nelson. Could a Donnie Iris-themed show be in the works for tonight’s concert at Stage AE? One will have to attend to find out. Doors open 8 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore.
Saturday, January 24
Gladys Knight, known as the “Empress of Soul,” used to be followed everywhere she performed, and no, it wasn’t by a stalker or the government, she had a group of highly talented male back-up singers called The Pips. Knight—a four-time Grammy Award-winner during her ’70s heyday with The Pips—is best known for the songs “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye).” In September, she released a gospel album, Where My Heart Belongs. The Spinners, a male vocal and dance group who originated in the suburbs of Detroit, also enjoyed considerable success in the ’70s creating top 10 hits, including “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love,” “The Rubber 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.” 8 p.m. Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District.
Fresh off an appearance earlier this month at Strip District Music Fest, Daily Grind will lower the volume, but certainly not the intensity, for an acoustic show at Double Wide Grill. The Pittsburgh four-piece draws from alternative rock and hip hop, making for a sound rife with hooks. They understand the dedication it takes to make it in music. Just look at their band name or these lyrics from their new single “The Life & Times, Circa Now“: “But I would rather be insane than lazy / Even the Beatles spent some time in the van.” The dedication has paid off. From parents’ basements to cross-country tour to headlining local venues like the Hard Rock Cafe and Altar Bar, ’14 was a good year for the group. They also released their debut album, The Green Plan, and have another album due this year. 2015 should only further their success, provided they keep to their own slogan and “Stay Grinding.” 9 p.m. 100 Adams Shoppes, Mars.
Wednesday, January 28
Ani DiFranco, singer/songwriter/guitarist, was one of the very first indie artists, having started her own record label—Righteous Babe—in ’89 at the age of 18. The label has allowed the native of Buffalo, New York, to enjoy more creative freedom and forge a successful career. DiFranco has also been a positive force for feminism and other social issues. She started her career at the tender age of nine, playing Beatles songs at bars. She also busked with her guitar teacher. Amazingly, at 14, she started writing her own songs and began a solo career playing coffee houses. Allergic to Water is DiFranco’s latest studio album and was released in November. 8 p.m. Rex Theater, 1602 E. Carson St., South Side.
Thursday, January 29
Lava Lounge offers a triumvirate of local music this evening. Grand Bell chimes with not one, but two pairs of brothers. Such fraternity makes for tight-knit instrumentation, as this track from their forthcoming album demonstrates. They’ve released two other LPs, under their former moniker Race the Ghost. Second–Murder for Girls, a punk/riot grrrl four-piece. They’ve released one EP and were included in the latest 2015 Pittsburgh Calendar Comp, a calendar/12’’ vinyl pairing which features 12 local musicians. The Park Plan round out the line-up, pairing socially conscientious lyrics with a sound reminiscent of surf rock and ’90s indie. Although new to the scene, they’ve already played a handful of shows since making their live debut in November ’14. Support local music, while also taking in the cavernous decor of one of the South Side’s best spots. 2204 East Carson St.
Friday, January 30
Shock rocker Marilyn Manson rose to international prominence with ’96’s album Antichrist Superstar, co-produced by Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails fame. Manson’s contrarian lyrics, industrial sound, and theatrics led to a “Best New Artist” accolade from Rolling Stone in ’96. Congressman Joseph Lieberman protested, religious groups picketed, yet Manson still remains part of the mono-culture. In addition to recording and touring, he recently collaborated with filmmaker David Lynch at an Austrian art exhibition. He’s also appeared as a contributor to Talking Dead, a roundtable discussion of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Customers who buy tickets to his concert at Stage AE receive a digital download of Manson’s new album, The Pale Emperor. “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge” continues his macabre sound. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore.
Come celebrate the release of Donora‘s third album, Ha Ha Heart, at the Brillobox. (Yes, the album came out in December. But, according to the band’s website, this gives you a chance to learn the words!) The Pittsburgh trio is known for their upbeat, poppy sound. Their new single, “Memory,” finds them in a more contemplative move. The group is something of a brother/sister act: Jake Hanner, the oldest, provides drums; sister Casey, vocals and guitar. Mutual-friend Jake Churton, meanwhile, plays bass. They gained national exposure when MTV series such as Engaged and Underage and Cribs began using their music. They are also signed to Pittsburgh’s Rostrum Records, home of Wiz Khalifa. Kahli Abdu and VHS Safari open. Doors open 9:30 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield.
Saturday, January 31
Once a single concert in ’95, now the largest Christian music tour in the country, Winter Jam 2015 Tour Spectacular stops at Consol Energy Center tonight. Celebrating its 20th year, the tour features numerous Christian rock and hip hop artists, including Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, Building 429, for KING & COUNTRY, and Family Force 5. Evangelist Tony Nolan also will speak. Skillet, this year’s headliner, come fresh from a European tour. The rock group gained platinum success when their ’09 single “Monster” became a radio and YouTube hit. NewSong, Winter Jam’s founders, continue to host. They have had 20 number one Christian radio singles and have been making music since ’81. Holt International, a non-profit international adoption agency, presents this year’s tour. 6 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown.
Melanie Martinez was only 17 when she auditioned on season three of NBC’s The Voice. Martinez played an acoustic version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” complete with kick-tambourine. That goosebump-inducing performance got three judges to hit the “I Want You” button. She went with Adam Levine, singing covers ranging from Ray Charles to The White Stripes, and making it all the way to the top six before being eliminated. Despite the loss, she found post-talent show success. Her debut EP, Dollhouse, plays like Siouxsie and the Banshees meets Goodnight Moon. (Check out “Carousel.”) She takes her bubble gum goth to The Club at Stage AE tonight. The Heirs open. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore.
Chris Maggio made major contributions to this Preview.