January 2023 Concert Guide: Sting & The PSO, Judy Collins, Neko Case, Greensky Bluegrass, and INEZ

Sting performing in 2018. (Photo: Raph_PH)

Sting performing in 2018. (Photo: Raph_PH)

Let’s not say there is a small amount of top concerts this month, let’s just say it is a cozy concert month. This January is a month where you can snuggle up close with the ones (performers) you love.

Hopefully the third time is the charm for the legendary Judy Collins as her last two scheduled dates were cancelled for various reasons. In the mood for a great “double Bill”? The check out Bill Toms and Billy Price at Jergel’s. Talk about a great combination, Sting is teaming up with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for two sold out concerts. Greensky Bluegrass and G. Love & Special Sauce bring some aurally pleasing tuneage to the ‘Burgh in separate concerts. Neko Case brings her musical talents to the Roxian Theatre for a solo show. Hometown hero INEZ headlines a multi-performer concert bill at the Thunderbird Cafe later in the month.

This guide features (in chronological order) Spotlighted 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.

Spotlight Picks

Thursday, January 5

Legendary songstress Judy Collins was a piano prodigy by 13, and as she came of age, she used her music to rail against social and environmental problems. She’s known for reinterpreting traditional and contemporary folk music standards to create rich, insightful, poetic-like songs about life’s ups and downs. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger influenced her with their use of storytelling through songs about hard-luck people. Collins, in turn, inspired others—Stephen Stills wrote the classic song, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” while breaking up with Collins. Collins’s version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” garnered her the Song of the Year Grammy Award in ’76. Collins is touring in support of her 29th studio album, Spellbound, which was released this past February. 7 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District. (R.H.)

There’s a wonderful double “bill” of Pittsburgh Blues rock this month, both literally and figuratively. Bill Toms and Billy Price will both be brining their considerable musical talents to Jergel’s. Both will be performing with their respective bands, Toms with Hard Rain and the Soulville Horns; and Price with the Billy Price Band. Toms, in addition to favorites from his catalog, will be performing songs from his most recent album, Keep Movin’ On” (see our story). Pittsburgh blues/soul/rock legend Billy Price is celebrating 50+ years as a performer in the music industry. Price cut his teeth as a vocalist for the late, great guitarist Roy Buchanan. He then started Billy Price and the Keystone Rhythm Band, best known for songs like “Eldorado Cafe” and “Lickin’ Stick” and albums like Free At Last. Price has a new 3-CD compilation, 50+Years of Soul, which he released last September. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (R.H.)

Monday, January 9 & Tuesday, January 10

Two incredible, award-winning music powerhouses are teaming up in Pittsburgh this month as rock, pop, and jazz vocalist/musician Sting performs with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The Pittsburgh Symphony is renowned around the world and winner of five Grammy Awards. Sting is best known as the lead singer for the rock/pop/reggae band The Police. With the group and as a solo musician, Sting has won 17 Grammy Awards. A former teacher, Sting played bass guitar for the Police. He’s also had a very successful solo career and has collaborated with top artists like: Bryan Adams, Shaggy, Dire Straits, and Rod Stewart. The performance will feature “an evening of his greatest hits reimagined for symphonic arrangement.” 7:30 p.m. both nights. Sold out. 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (R.H.)

Thursday, January 26

Greensky Bluegrass will perform at Stage AE this month in support of last year’s LP Stress Dreams. Greensky Bluegrass has done pretty well for itself. 2016’s Shouted, Written Down & Quoted (produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin), peaked at number three on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart. 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 also known for fantastic light displays. Special guest is Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. (C.M., R.H.)

Sometimes blues, sometimes hip hop, sometimes rock—G. Love & Special Sauce deliver a smorgasbord of all their sounds often in one song, such as on “New York City.” The Philadelphia trio has remained a viable act for over 25 years. G. Love’s 2020 LP release, The Juice, was nominated for the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy Award. Their latest release is Philadelphia Mississippi, which dropped in 2022. also on the tour is Donovan Frankenreiter, a rock musician and professional surfer; and Nat Meyers. 8 p.m. Roxian Theatre, 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (C.M., R.H.)

Saturday, January 28

“Country noir”—that’s the genre Neko Case classifies herself as. It’s a genre that was years in the making. She’s contributed lead and backing vocals to numerous songs by indie rock band The New Pornographers while also displaying a decided twang on her alt country solo records. The “noir,” meanwhile, comes from her sometimes macabre lyrics, such as on “Star Witness.” That track is off 2006’s critically acclaimed album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Her 2013 release The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, was met with similar acclaim (Check out the bitingly ironic “Man.”) It was even nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. Her latest solo release is 2018’s Hell-on, which peaked at no. 4 on Billboard’s U.S. Indies chart. Special guest is Indigo Sparke. 7 p.m. Roxian Theatre, (C.M., R.H.)

The last few years have been very good for Pittsburgh R&B/Soul performer/writer/producer/drummer/etc., INEZ, the self-proclaimed FireShorty™️ Her website sums it up rather nicely, “Pittsburgh Music Artist of the Year” for 2020 by Pittsburgh’s WYEP 91.3 FM and was selected as a SCALE Fellow; a fellowship supporting the advancement of Black women and femmes in music. INEZ helped kick off the 2021 NFL season, singing the “Star Spangled Banner ” at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Game in Canton, OH. In December, The Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation and Opportunity Fund awarded INEZ the Carol R. Brown Achievement Award as an Emerging Artist.” And to cap off 2022, INEZ was the headliner at the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh celebrations. You can catch her at the Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall this month. The show is billed as From INEZ with Love Presents: For the Love of You. Also on the bill are Simone Davis, Anqwenique, and Dejah Monae. Doors open at 7 p.m. 4053 Butler St., Lawrenceville. (R.H.)

INEZ, a multi-talented performer from Pittsburgh's Homewood neighborhood, performs at the Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall this month. (Photo: Raymond Aidoo)

INEZ, a multi-talented performer from Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood, performs at the Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall this month. (Photo: Raymond Aidoo)

Other Shows of Interest

Friday, January 6
Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors w/ Tres Lads (Jergel’s)

Wednesday, January 11
Albert Lee (Club Cafe)

Friday, January 20
Brachtopus (Thunderbird Cafe)

Wednesday, January 25
Bill Deasy (Jergel’s)

Tuesday, January 31
Lynn Speakman Quintet (Liberty Magic)

Big Shows on the Horizon

February 10
Scott Blasey (Club Cafe)

February 11
Peabo Bryson (AWAACC)

February 15
Yo Yo Ma with the Pittsburgh Symphony (Heinz Hall)

February 17
Gaelic Storm (Jergel’s)

February 23
Silversun Pickups (Roxian Theatre)

February 25
Carrie Underwood (PPG Paints Arena)
Badflower (Roxian Theatre)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.