July 2021 Concert Guide: The Black Crowes, Chicago, Warrant, Fitz, Berlin, and Free Shows

The Black Crowes performing at the Newport Folk Festival in 2008. (photo: DickClarkMises and Wikipedia).

The Black Crowes performing at the Newport Folk Festival in 2008. (photo: DickClarkMises and Wikipedia).

Live music is back and with it, for the first time in 16 months, the Entertainment Central Concert Guide! All of the shows spotlighted below are outside, and many of them are free. There’s always more to explore, but this guide will highlight several main attractions as well as some venues that are hosting concerts again.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra opens July with back-to-back performances at South Park Amphitheater and Hartwood Acres. Chicago, the Black Crowes, Warrant, Big & Rich, and Fitz and the Tantrums are some of the top national acts returning to Pittsburgh. Representing jam and folk are, respectively, moe., and the Lone Bellow.

Aaron Lee Tasjan, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter has a deep solo discography and continues to rise. Berlin featuring Terri Nunn, whose pipes powered “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun, closes July. On the local front, many artists will perform at Hands Over Deutschtown, a one-day version of the Deutschtown Music Festival in the North Side.

And in case you missed it, S&T Bank Music Park has reverted back to its original, beloved name, Star Lake—one of many changes this summer which will hopefully make the season feel like old times again.

Rick Handler (R.H.) also contributed to this Guide.

In the EC Spotlight

Thursday, July 1

“Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” is the anthemic country song from the music duo Big & Richs first album, Horse of a Different Color.  Released in 2004. The song reached no. 11 on the Billboard country chart in 2004. Yes, John Rich and Big Kenny (Alphin) like to have some fun, but they are also talented musicians. In 2007 the duo went on hiatus, reuniting in 2011 to work on the song “Fake ID’ for the new Footloose movie soundtrack. Big & Rich’s latest album is 2017’s Did it for the Party. Tonight’s concert is part of the Pirates (Re)Opening Weekend and follows the team’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Maybe the Pirates will have some fun too and drown the Brewers in their suds. And if that’s not enough it’s also $1 Hot Dog Night. 7:05 game time. PNC Park, 115 Federal St., North Shore. (R.H.)

July 3 and 4

The world-renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will dazzle the crowds this month with back-to-back outdoor shows at South Park (July 3) and Hartwood Acres (July 4)  as part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series. The music program for this free concert has not been announced yet, but past ones have included music by Rossini, Sousa, and Tchaikovsky. Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy a night of classical music under the stars. 8:15 p.m. 3700 Farmshow Drive, South Park Township and 200 Hartwood Acres, Hampton and Indiana townships. (R.H.)

Wednesday, July 7

Fitz and The Tantrums first big success came in 2010 when their initial album Pickin’ Up the Pieces reached number one on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart. The album generated several hits, including “MoneyGrabber,” “Don’t Gotta Work It Out,” and “Breakin’ the Chains of Love.” Fitz and the Tantrums followed up with 2013’s More Than Just a Dream. Its “Out of My League” also climbed the charts. Fitz and the Tantrums have grown into a more highly polished dance-pop sound, but have lost some of their raw musical power. However, they are still a very interesting band to hear live. Their 2016 release, Fitz and The Tantrums, contained the hit single “HandClap.” 2019’s, All the Feels is the band’s latest release. The concert was originally slated for the Starlight Drive-in, but is now at the Allegheny Overlook Park on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard in Downtown Pittsburgh. (R.H.)

Sunday, July 11

Feel the groove with Buffalo, New York jam band moe. at Hartwood Acres. The quintet has opened for rock bands, such as the Allman Brothers Band and The Who. Headlining gigs include New Year’s Eve concerts at Radio City Music Hall in 2006 and 2007. With such an impressive tour history, moe. has gained a faithful following of “moe.rons” (their word) since the band’s 1989 formation. They are prolific in the studio too with 12 full-length albums released. Their discography contains the LP This Is Not, We Are and the EP Not Normal, both released in the arguably not-normal year of 2020. Pulling from rock, blues, and jazz, the band seems to enjoy the performances as much as its audiences. With many songs like “Rebubula” lasting over 10 minutes, you won’t want to forget your dancing shoes for this performance. 7:30 p.m. 4070 Middle Rd., Allison Park. (E.C., C.M.)

Saturday, July 17

Hands Over Deutschtown may be a smaller version of the Deutschtown Music Festival, which was canceled last year because of the pandemic, but its mission is arguably more important than ever: to promote local music and the neighborhood of Deutschtown, which also goes by East Allegheny. The area is home to some lively bars and restaurants; many served as venues in years past. This year, the free music festival will be at the Allegheny Commons Park, but that doesn’t mean one can’t visit those establishments between acts. Speaking of acts, the lineup includes hip-hop and spoken-word artist Brittney Chantele, Brazilian percussion group Timbeleza, and more. Squonk Opera, which blends music and visual art, headlines. The festival is a project of the Northside Leadership Conference. 11 a.m. Allegheny Commons Park, Deutschtown (East Allegheny), North Side. (C.M.)

Sunday, July 18

Three harmonizing voices plus lush instrumentation equals The Lone Bellow, who will perform at Hartwood Acres. The indie-folk trio formed in Brooklyn, New York City, but it is now based in Nashville. 2015’s Then Came the Morning, the band’s sophomore LP, saw production by Aaron Dessner (of the rock band The National) and brass and string arrangements by Bryce Dessner (Aaron’s twin brother and also of The National). “Fake Roses,” with its vivid lyrics, remains a standout single from Then Came the Morning. The group opened for the Avett Brothers early in its career. It also shared the bill with Cold War Kids for the Feed More Festival at Stage AE in 2016. TV appearances include the “Late Show with David Letterman” and “CBS This Morning.” The Lone Bellow released its fourth album, Half Moon Light, in 2020 with Aaron Dessner again producing. Special guest is Andre Costello & The Cool Minors. 7:30 p.m. 4070 Middle Rd., Allison Park. (C.M.)

Wednesday, July 21

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 band’s last release was 2019’s Chicago XXXVII: Chicago Christmas. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake, 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Friday, July 23

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan has previously headlined several Pittsburgh concerts. This year, Tasjan is the main act at the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series’ July 23 show at South Park Amphitheater. He has released four solo albums since 2015, most recently 2021’s Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!, with a few EPs prior to that. His resumé also includes playing with Sean Lennon and he wrote a song with BP Fallon that Fallon recorded with Jack White producing and playing guitar called “I Believe In Elvis Presley.” Tasjan also did a live recording for Luck Reunion with Lilly Hiatt that was released on Jack White’s Third Man Records label. Tasjan co-founded the band Semi Precious Weapons in New York City in 2006. In 2008, he formed another band, the Madison Square Gardeners (great name). They recorded an LP and three EPs during his three-year tenure with them. He also played lead guitar for the classic proto-punk band the New York Dolls for a brief stint in 2009. Tasjan was invited to stay on, but decided to work on other projects. Special guest is Rob James of The Clarks. 7:30 p.m. 3700 Farmshow Dr., South Park. (C.M.)

Sunday, July 25

Glam band Warrant was at the zenith of their success from their formation in Los Angeles in 1984, to 1996, with five highly successful albums. Their first big hit was “Heaven”, but they are arguably best known for the risque dity, “Cherry Pie,” with the line “She’s My Cherry Pie” The video for the latter heavily featured model Bobbie Brown dancing and in various outfits including “Daisy Duke” shorts. As a result of the shoot, Brown and lead singer Jani Lane (now deceased) started dating, eventually marrying and divorcing. The song “Cherry Pie”reached no. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990 and in 2009 the song was listed as the 56th Best Rock Song by VH1. Appropriately enough this tour is billed as the Warrant Cherry Pie 30 Never Tasted So Good Anniversary Tour. The band’s latest album is 2017’s Louder Harder Faster. 8 p.m. Jergel’s, 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (R.H.)

Wednesday, July 28

The Black Crowes are one of America’s top rock outfits and have the catalog to back that up. Their initial album, Shake your Money Maker, released in 1990, produced the hits “Hard to Handle,” “She Talks to Angels,” “Jealous Again” and the title track. All spent time at or near the top of the charts. The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, the band’s followup album paid homage to an old hymn, Southern Harmony, and was another hitmaker spinning off hot rockers like “Remedy,” “Sting Me,” Thorn in My Pride,” and “Hotel Illness.” All reached no. 1 on the charts, an amazing feat that eclipsed Tom Petty three no. 1’s from the same album in 1989. Other interesting rockers from the Crowes catalog include “Wiser Time” and “Nebakanezer.”

The Black Crowe’s signature sound is composed of strong harmonies, top guitar playing, creative drumming/percussion, and melodic keys. They can do a tight 4 minute rock song or go on an extended jam. Although harmony is a big part of the sound, the band’s brotherhood of Chris (lead vocals) and Rich Robinson (lead guitar) has at times been less than harmonious, with several breakups and reunions. Let’s hope The Black Crowes are back together again for good now. A new album is in the works. This tour celebrates the 30th Anniversary of their Shake Your Money Maker album. Dirty Honey opens. 7:30 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake,  665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Friday, July 30 

Berlin, arguably best known for “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun, performs at the South Park Amphitheater. The show is billed as Berlin featuring Terri Nunn, for while other musicians have come and gone, singer Nunn has remained a constant in the band since 1979. She’s also the only member to appear on “Take My Breath Away,” which was co-written by Italian composer and disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1986. Berlin never again matched the success of the song—also a number one hit—and the group disbanded in 1987. Nunn reformed the band in 1997 after retaining the legal rights to the Berlin name. About that name: she and her peers hailed from Los Angeles, but they wanted to give the impression that they were European. You can also hear krautrock’s influence on songs such as “The Metro.” 2020’s Strings Attached features orchestral versions of old tunes. Special guest is Donora. 7:30 p.m. 3700 Farmshow Dr., South Park. (C.M.)

On the Radar

Sunday, August 1
Average White Band (Hartwood Acres)

Tuesday, August 3
James Taylor (PPG Paints Arena)

Friday, August 6
The Spinners (South Park Amphitheater)
Gordon Lightfoot (Palace theatre)

Friday, August 6 and Saturday, August 7
Millvale Music Festival

Sunday, August 8
The Jayhawks (Hartwood Acres)

Friday, August 13
Jason Aldean (The Pavilion at Star lake)

Wednesday, August 18
Modest Mouse (Stage AE)

Thursday, August 19
Green Day (PNC Park)

Friday, August 20
WAMO Summer Jam featuring Trippie Redd (Stage AE)

Wednesday, August 25
Maroon 5 (The Pavilion at Star Lake)
Shakey Graves (Roxian Theatre)

Thursday, August 26
KISS (The Pavilion at Star Lake)

Friday, August 27
Dave Matthews Band (The Pavilion at Star Lake)

Saturday, August 28
Rock, Reggae and Relief 2021 (Market Square)

Sunday, August 29
The Spin Doctors (Hartwood Acres)

Monday, August 30
Cold War Kids (Roxian Theatre)

Tuesday, August 31
The Roots (Stage AE)