July 2022 Concert Guide: Brian Wilson, Roger Waters, Willie Nelson, Maren Morris, Jimmy Buffett, The Doobie Brothers

The Brian Wilson Band performing at Denmark's Roskilde Festival in 2005. photo: Pardy and Wikipedia.

The Brian Wilson Band performing at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival in 2005. (photo: Pardy and Wikipedia.)

The concert scene this July is legendary! Some of the top performers and bands of the last half century are in the ‘Burgh this month. Several of them are musical geniuses, having created entire new sounds and sub genres. Included in this high level are Brian Wilson, Roger Waters, Santana, Jimmy Buffett, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Close behind the aforementioned, and appearing this month, are The Doobie Brothers, Willie Nelson, Chicago, and ZZ Top.

Others on the way up, or already at or near the top of the music industry include: Morgan Wallen, Maren Morris, Howard Jones, Rage Against the Machine, and Government Mule. If you’re in the mood for a Grateful Dead fix, Dead & Company are stopping by. And somehow the planets and stars have magically aligned for a two boy man band month. Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block will both be performing—separately. If you are a lover of ’80s/’90s dance band music there’s Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue (with NKOTB), and Magic Star. For hometown heroes look not further than the Deutschtown Music Festival with 500 bands and performers over three days.

This guide features (in chronological order) spotlighted picks, other shows of note, and big shows on the horizon. Get out and see what pleases you, whether it’s one of our concerts or something entirely different.

Spotlighted Picks

Tuesday, July 5

The Backstreet Boys were a cultural touchstone in the late ’90s. Their music is anthemic of the years around the turn of the millennium. Their self-titled debut U.S. release didn’t hit until 1997, yet they still managed to become one of the top 10 best-selling records of the decade thanks to a handful of chart-topping singles. Globally, across nine studio albums they’ve sold over 130 million records, and they still pack arenas when they go on tour. Band members include Kevin Richardson, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, and Brian Littrell. The group’s latest release is 2019’s, DNA. The album features songs written by Lauv (Charli XCX), Andy Grammer, Stuart Crichton (DNCE) and Mike Sabbath (J Balvin). Look for a BSB Christmas album out this holiday season. 7:30 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (E.C., R.H.)

Wednesday, July 6

After Syd Barrett’s departure from Pink Floyd, bassist Roger Waters became the group’s chief lyricist. His songwriting often concerned his father, who died in World War Two when Waters was five months old. Waters was the creative force behind The Dark Side of the Moon (’73), Wish You Were Here (’75), and, of course, The Wall (’79), all critical and commercial successes. The Wall Tour was highly theatrical; it was also expensive and appeared in only four cities. Waters left Pink Floyd after 1983’s The Final Cut, resulting in litigation over who owned the band’s name and material. The members later reconciled, and Waters has since toured The Dark Side of the Moon and, from 2010 to 2013, The Wall. His This is Not a Drill Tour which stops at PPG Paints Arena, is an in the round performance. It mixes solo material, both old and new, and classic Pink Floyd songs. Pittsburgh is the very first stop on the tour. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (C.M., R.H.)

RESCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 4. It was August 16, 1969 in upstate New York that a young musician, tripping on LSD, with his band, played one of the most important concerts of his life. The young guitar phenom was Carlos Santana. He and his group Santana performed an amazing concert at Woodstock. He came by musical talent quite naturally, his father was a San Francisco area violinist who performed with symphonies and mariachi bands. Early records such as Santana, Abraxas, and Santana III achieved lofty chart success. Santana would also hit the chart heights later in his career too with 1999’s Supernatural with a song he performed with Rob Thomas, “Smooth.” In 2002, he scored another big hit on a song he did with Michelle Branch, “The Game of Love.” Santana’s latest album is 2021’s Blessings and Miracles. Carlos Santana is also an accomplished artist. A double blessing indeed.

Earth, Wind & Fire is one of the most successful soul/funk bands of the late ’70s and early to mid ’80s. There are many reasons for the band’s success, mainly the musical genius of EWF’s leader, the late Maurice White. White fused musical genres together, including soul, funk, African rhythms, gospel, rock, and jazz. He combined that with a tight band of top-notch musicians, including a horn section, mystical lyrics and staging, and the soaring voice of Philip Bailey. White and Bailey were the two lead singers with Bailey possessing a beautiful falsetto voice with a four-octave range. 1975’s That’s the Way of the World was the band’s first big album and produced the hits “That’s the Way of the World,” “Shining Star,” and “Reasons.” EWF has received 20 Grammy nominations, winning six as a group and White and Bailey garnering two individual awards. White’s brother Verdine is the longtime bassist for the band and Bailey’s son, Phillip Bailey Jr. is also in the band. The Santana & Earth Wind & Fire tour is the Miraculous Supernatural Tour. Sounds about right! 7 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake, 665 Rt. 18 Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Friday, July 8

“Things Can Only Get Better” Howard Jones sang in his snyth-pop, British new wave song in 1985. The positive, infectious hit featured a catchy base groove and vocals, great keyboard and horn runs, and backing vocals from the all-female group Afrodiziak. The song even crossed over and was a success on the R&B charts. Jones had success with other songs, with 15 Top 40 hit singles worldwide between 1983 and 1992. Those hits included “No One is to Blame,” “Like to Get to Know You Well,” and “Everlasting Love.” His 1984 album Human’s Lib entered the U.K. charts at No. 1 and stayed on the charts for 57 consecutive weeks. Not content to just revel in the glow of past hits, Jones’ works with music equipment-makers to help develop new models of keyboards and synthesizers. He also has a CD and DVD of his multimedia show Engage. “A highly interactive live experience designed to immerse audiences in an audio/visual feast. It embraces EDM, contemporary classical, cinematic and pop music influences, and fuses it with ballet, modern dance and philosophy,” is how the show is described on Jones’ site. His latest Album  release is 2019’s Transform. Look for a new electronic album called Dialogue in the not too distant future. He’s in concert at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, 8 p.m. Special guest is Midge Ure. 510 E. 10th St., Munhall. (R.H.)

Saturday, July 9

The Doobie Brothers are a big time rock band that rose out of San Jose, California and charted many hits in the 1970s and early 1980s. The initial outfit was fronted by lead vocalist and guitarist Tom Johnston. He led the band  from 1970 until he left in 1975. During that period the Doobies had top hits like “China Grove,” “Blackwater,” and “Listen to the Music.” In 1976 Michael McDonald signed on as lead vocalist and the band’s sound took a new course. That version of the band scored hits with “Takin it to the Streets,” “What a Fool Believes,” and “Minute By Minute.” Kenny Loggins even has a co-writing credit on “What a Fool Believes.” Johnston then returned to the band in 1987 and has remained with them ever since. The Doobies had a new hit in 1989 with “The Doctor.” Liberté is the group’s latest album release and dropped in 2021. The group is on their 50th Anniversary Tour and are joined by their good friend Michael McDonald. 7:30 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake, 665 Rt. 18 Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Sunday, July 10

If you are a “Freak-A-Zoid” with the “Midas Touch” who adhered to the “No Parking on the Dance Floor” rule then Midnight Star is definitely your dance band. Midnight Star was formed by a group of Kentucky State University students in 1976. The group’s breakout hit came in 1983 with their album and single of the same name, No Parking on the Dance Floor. After disbanding in the ’90s, the group reunited in 2000 and has toured on and off ever since. You can catch them for free as part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series at Hartwood Acres. Special guest is Royce. 7:30 p.m. 4070 Middle Road, Allison Park (R.H.)

Tuesday, July 12

The Grateful Dead officially disbanded in 1995 after three legendary decades as the jam band of choice for an entire generation. The group played more than 2,300 shows in its career, and dedicated fans were famous for recording every performance, cataloging set lists, and preserving the Dead’s improvisational style. Fans who want to experience a live Grateful Dead show are out of luck today—unless Dead & Company are in town. The seeds of this supergroup began in 2011. John Mayer became a Deadhead after hearing “Althea” on a Pandora station. He befriended Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir in 2015. The pair and Dead drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann soon formed Dead & Company. Joining them were bassist Oteil Burbridge and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti. The tour includes a stop at the Pavilion at Star Lake. 7 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (C.M., R.H.)

Friday, July 15

Country singer/songwriter Maren Morris has enjoyed much success since her father bought her an acoustic guitar as a young girl growing up in Arlington, Texas. She had several small label album releases and wrote songs for recording artists including Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson. In 2015 her self-released and self-titled EP was a major success on Spotify and led to a contract with Columbia Nashville. Since then Morris has released three LP’s, 2017’s Hero, 2019’s Girl, and on March 25 of this year she released Humble Quest. Hero and Girl generated hit songs such as “My Church,” “The Bones,” and “Girl.” She also did a fantastic collaboration with Zedd, and Grey on the song “The Middle.” The song was nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 2019 Grammy Awards. Maren herself is already the recipient of a Grammy, CMA, and Billboard Music Award. She has been nominated for those awards and others over 50 times. Humble Quest reached no. 2 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Morris is married to fellow country music artist Ryan Hurd. They have one child. Morris is playing Stage AE on her Humble Quest Tour. Brent Cobb opens. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (R.H.)

Maren Morris at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017. (photo: Wikipedia and Prbtsubedi12345)

Maren Morris at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017. (photo: Wikipedia and Prbtsubedi12345)

Saturday, July 16

A best-selling author, successful restaurateur, and beverage manufacturer will be making an appearance in the Pittsburgh area. Who might that be, you ask? Jimmy Buffett! The quintessential singer-songwriter has successfully transformed his brand of fun and vacation-y party music into a series of books, restaurants, and libations. Oh, don’t worry, he still has time to visit with Parrot Heads (Buffett fans) in Pittsburgh every year. Some likely sounds on the setlist for Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band include “Margaritaville,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” and “Fins.” Buffett, who upon college graduation worked for a while as a correspondent for Billboard magazine in Nashville, first started out performing in the country arena and busked for tourists in New Orleans. A busking trip to Key West gave him the inspiration for his island sound, one which is a unique mix of country, folk, pop, and tropical melodies. 8 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake, 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Tuesday, July 19

New Kids on the Block is a boy band (now a man band) that rose out of the rough streets of Boston and was built around a young rapper named Donnie Wahlberg. The rest of the group was filled in with talented friends, and for a short while, his brother Mark was in the band. The group disbanded in 1994 and reunited in 2007. Top songs include “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” and “Step by Step.” Brothers Donnie and Mark have a growing quick-serve restaurant chain with their chef/brother Paul called Wahlburgers, which has a location in Pittsburgh at the Block Northway. The burgers are in the North Hills, and the concert is at PPG Paints Arena. Also bringing ’90s heat to the concert will be Salt-N-Pepa and En-Vogue, plus you’ll get “rolled” by Rick Astley. 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (R.H.)

Wednesday, July 20

POSTPONED. In 2015 Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes opened for Taylor Swift at Heinz Field. Now on his most recent trips to the ‘Burgh he’s been headlining his own show at  PPG Paints Arena. His career began in 2013 by posting Vines of himself covering popular songs. The videos are only six seconds, still enough time to showcase a remarkable voice. Another longer, and more amazing video is “Señorita” with Camila Cabello, who he also dated for a few years. Mendes’s debut album was 2015’s Handwritten. His self-titled third album was released in 2018. He is the third youngest artist ever to have three albums land at no. 1 on the Billboard 200. Other ventures include modeling, and he walked the Emporio Armani Spring 2018 runway in Milan. He’s appeared on “Saturday Night Live” twice, most recently in 2019 with host Adam Sandler. Mendes’ latest studio album is 2020’s Wonder, which peaked at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Special guest is Dermot Kennedy. 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (CM)

Shawn Mendes performs "In My Blood" at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards. (photo: MTV and Wikipedia)

Shawn Mendes performs “In My Blood” at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards. (photo: MTV and Wikipedia)

Thursday, July 21

Morgan Wallen will be visiting the Pavilion at Star Lake on his The Dangerous Tour. The country music performer is definitely a little edgy at times. His career took a hit over the last several years  following several incidents: being arrested for disorderly conduct after being escorted out of Kid Rock’s steakhouse in Nashville in May 2020, kicked off Saturday Night Live the same year for not following NBC’s COVID-19 protocols, and last year video surfaced oh him on saying a racial slur. Hopefully, he has gotten himself walking the straighter and narrower path now. Wallen is a very talented singer-songwriter who appeared on season six of “The Voice.” He reached the playoffs before being eliminated. He was then signed to his first recording contract and released an EP. He has since released two studio albums including 2022’s Dangerous: The Double Album. It reached no. 1 on Billboard‘s Top 200 and U.S. Country charts. Hardy opens. 665 Rt. 18 Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Friday, July 22 to Sunday, July 24

The Deutschtown Music Festival helps to promote local music and a neighborhood hidden in plain sight. Also known as East Allegheny, Deutschtown is east of the Children’s Museum and Allegheny Commons Park. The neighborhood is home to some lively bars and restaurants; many will serve as venues as will seven outdoor stages. Now in its tenth year and once a Saturday-only event, the festival has spilled over into Friday and Sunday. The lineup features 500 Pittsburgh acts, including Murder for Girls, Joe Grushecky & Friends, Andre Costello and Forestry Division, INEZ, The Nox Boys, Chandra Rhyme, Sierra Sellers, Tjuan Benefactor, Gene the Werewolf, Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Big Blitz, Eagleburger Band, The Flow Band, and Fuck Yeah Dinosaurs!. Bluegrass, punk, rap, rock, and other genres are represented. Some venues, like Penn Brewery, are outside Deutschtown. For a complete list of venues and acts, check out the festival’s website. Food trucks, art vendors, and a beer garden will be on site. 3 p.m. – 1 a.m. Fri., July 22, and 11 a.m. –1 a.m. Sat., July 23, and noon to 7 p.m., Sun. Free. Deutschtown (East Allegheny), North Side. (C.M., R.H.)

Friday, July 22

Classic-rock mainstay Chicago has remained vibrant and popular throughout the decades despite lead singer Peter Cetera leaving the band for a solo career in 1985, personnel changes, and a lack of latter-day chart successes. Why has Chicago remained so popular? The answer is in the music. Every musician is highly accomplished, and the band’s big wall of sound brings it all together. Best known for its brassy horn section—which gives extra depth to hits like “25 or 6 to 4,” “Saturday in the Park,” “Just You ‘n’ Me” “Beginnings,” and “If You Leave Me Now“—Chicago had a longer name at its start in 1967. The rockers called themselves Chicago Transit Authority but were forced to change it—by the Chicago Transit Authority. The group is releasing Born for This Moment (a.k.a. Chicago XXXVIII), their 38th album on July 15th, right before their Pittsburgh concert. 

Brian Wilson is one of the key ingredients of the great American songbook created by the Beach Boys. Surfing, racing, and love were some of the thematic elements in their tunes. Many of them written by Wilson, he is credited with writing more than two dozen Top 40 hits for the Beach Boys. Wilson’s innovative writing and recording techniques became well-respected in the industry. He is a true champion who overcame the incapacitating challenges of mental illness to again achieve greatness through his music.

Wilson is a highly talented singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist, and arranger who is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a two-time Grammy winner. He is touring with another classic rock heavyweight—Chicago. Wilson in 2016 brought his 50th Anniversary of Pet Sounds tour to Pittsburgh. The album was the Beach Boys’ 11th studio album and was one of the first concept albums, incorporating rock, jazz, psychedelic, classical, and avant-garde influences. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” “Sloop John B”  and “Caroline, No” were all notable hits from the album. Wilson’s intent was to make the greatest rock and roll album ever. It peaked at no. 10 in the U.S. and at no. 2 in the U.K. Many of those hit songs could be on the set list for this show. Wilson’s latest release is 2021’s Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road, which accompanied a documentary of the same name. Performing with Wilson are Beach Boys’ founding member Al Jardine, and Blondie Chaplin. 7 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake, 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Friday, July 29

This week a Vancouver, Canada soft-pop rock radio station that was changing formats and had just laid off two on air DJs started playing Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” song on a continuous loop. The hard rock group rose out of Los Angeles and is know for their revolutionary political views. The group’s fantastic lead guitarist, Tom Morello, often has messages displayed on his guitars. One, a Mongrel custom guitar, has “Arm the Homeless” on it, another, a Fender Stratocaster, has “Soul Power” on it. Morello toured with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band for several years through 2015. Rage Against the Machine is more than just Morello. Vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk all are very talented and put on a high energy show. You can see Rage Against the Machine at PPG Paints Arena on their Public Service Announcement Tour. Special guest is Run the Jewels. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (R.H.)

Sunday, July 31

Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and we’re very lucky because he’s stopping in the ‘Burgh to entertain us. He’ll be headlining the Outlaw Music Festival as it swings by The Pavilion at Star Lake with its strong lineup of top musicians and groups. Nelson is a singer/songwriter/author/activist/businessman and more. He’s had a storied career that includes a Kennedy Center Honor. In 1993, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. One of the founders of Farm Aid, which started in 1985 to help struggling farmers, Nelson was inducted into the National Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2011. Nelson’s been known to “inhale” and has claimed to have smoked marijuana on the roof of the White House. His 2012 book, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road, is a memoir that became a New York Times Top Ten Best Seller.

First and foremost for Nelson is the music. In 1973, turned off by the conservative nature of the Nashville country music scene, he was a founding member of a branch of the industry in Austin, Texas called outlaw country. Other members included Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings, who joined Nelson to form the outlaw country supergroup The Highwaymen. When Nelson plays, he is joined by musical associates he calls The Family. Nelson’s latest album, A Beautiful Time is amazingly the seventy-second solo studio album by Nelson and was released on April 29, his 89th birthday. In addition to Willie originals, the album also has covers of songs by The Beatles and Leonard Cohen. With this Outlaw Music Festival event, he’s sure to play many old and new favorites, including “Always on My Mind.” 

Texas rockers ZZ Top is composed of Billy Gibbons (guitar, lead vocals), Frank Beard (drummer) and Elwood Francis (backing vocals, bass guitar). Francis replaced founding member Dusty Hill who died in 2021. Some of the band’s top hits are “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” and “La Grange.” ZZ Top has sold over 50 million albums and is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Southern rock jam band Gov’t Mule is also on the bill at the Outlaw Music Festival. The Mule started in ’94 as a side project for the Allman Brothers Band guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody, who passed on in ’00. Haynes has led the band forward through an additional 23 albums, including last year’s Heavy Load Blues. The Mule’s melodic guitar-drenched sound can be heard in songs like “Soulshine” and “Beautifully Broken.” 4:30 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Other Shows of Note

Sunday, July 3
Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers (Rivers Casino Amphitheatre)

Tuesday, July 5
Max Leake and Weather or Not (Cultural Trust Backyard)

Friday, July 8
Selwyn Birchwood (Moondog’s)

Saturday, July 9
Murder for Girls (Government Center)

Wednesday, July 13
Third Eye Blind (Stage AE)
Asia (Jergel’s)

Thursday, July 14
Thomas Rhett (Star Lake)

Friday, July 15
Bill Toms Acoustic Storytelling (Club Cafe)

Saturday, July 16
The Cult (Stage AE)

Tuesday, July 19
Psychedelic Furs and X (Palace Theatre)

Wednesday, July 20
Chris Cain (Thunderbird Cafe)

Thursday, July 21
Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors and Bill Deasy (The Crafthouse)

Saturday, July 23
Justin Fabus (Jam on Walnut)

Sunday, July 24
Adrian Belew (Oaks Theater)
North Mississippi All Stars (Hartwood Acres)

Tuesday, July 26
Hanson (Palace Theatre)
Theron Brown Trio (Cultural Trust Backyard)

Saturday, July 30
The Clarks (Fayette County Fair)

Saturday July 30 & Sunday July 31
Pittsburgh Blues and Roots Festival (Shrine Center)

Big Shows on the Horizon

Tuesday, August 2
Machine Gun Kelly (PPG Paints Arena)

Friday, August 5
Charli XCX (Stage AE)

Wednesday, August 10
Alice In Chains, Breaking Benjamin, and Bush (Star Lake)

Thursday, August 11
Billy Joel (PNC Park)

Friday, August 12
Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Poison and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts(PNC Park)

Sunday, August 14
Metallica, Greta Van Fleet, and Ice Nine Kills

Monday, August 15
Dispatch, O.A.R., and G. Love (Stage AE)

Sunday, August 21
Michael Franti & Spearhead and Arrested Development (Hartwood Acres)

Friday, August 26
Jason Aldean, Gabby Barrett, and John Morgan (Star Lake)

Sunday, August 28
Wiz Khalifa and Logic (Star Lake)

Wednesday, August 31
Twenty One Pilots (PPG Paints Arena)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.