March 2019 Concert Guide: Wiz, Winger, Mariah, Mumford, Mitski, Kiss, and Kool & the Gang

Kiss performing at Hellfest in Clisson, France in 2013. (photo: Llann Wé and Wikipedia)

Kiss is on their farewell tour and will be performing at PPG Paints Arena this month. Pictured: Kiss at Hellfest in Clisson, France in 2013. (photo: Llann Wé and Wikipedia)

Much like the NCAA Basketball Tournament, March concerts in Pittsburgh can be divided into four brackets: classic performers, rising stars, Irish music, and hometown heroes. Kool & The Gang, Graham Nash, Winger, Joe Boanamassa, Mariah Carey, Casting Crowns, and Kiss are examples of the first category. We are fortunate to have them visiting us this month.

Rising stars this month include: Deerhunter, Mumford & Sons, Gary Clark Jr., Umphrey’s McGee, Jukebox the Ghost, and Mitski. It will be interesting to see all of them continue on an upward trajectory. Wiz Khalifa, arguably, straddles the rising star, classic performers, and hometown heroes brackets.

With St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th and the parade on the 16th, Irish music abounds. There’s a lot of top musical performers and bands in the parade. Also performing Celtic sounds this month are Celtic Woman, Bastard Bearded Irishmen, River City Brass, The Irish Tenors, and Mark Dignam. On the hometown heroes front, March sees Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers, Bill Toms and Hard Rain, Liz Berlin, Phat Man Dee, Drowning Clowns, Allissa Logsdon, Garter Shake, and others in action. Heat up your March with some live music!

The Entertainment Central Concert Guide is made up of three sections: EC Spotlighted Concerts, Other Suggested Concerts, and On the Radar. Each section lists concerts in chronological order. Christopher Maggio (CM) also made substantial contributions to the Guide.

EC Spotlighted Concerts

Saturday, March 2

Wiz Khalifa’s songs have been nominated for 10 Grammys, including the hometown fave “Black and Yellow.” The music video for “See You Again” (featuring Charlie Puth), from the Furious 7 soundtrack, was briefly the most viewed video on YouTube when it surpassed “Gangnam Style” by K-pop singer Psy in July 2017. “See You Again” pays tribute to one of the film’s stars, Paul Walker, who died in a car accident before the movie was completed. Khalifa and his backing band, Kush and Orange Juice, headlined Thrival Music at Carrie Furnace in 2017. The band is part of the larger Taylor Gang, Khalifa’s Pittsburgh-based record label. The name harks back to Taylor Allderdice High School, his alma mater, and his admiration of Chuck Taylor shoes. He and Curren$y co-headline a sold-out show at Stage AE. The pair released a collaborative album, 2009, this year. They’ve collaborated before on the 2013 EP Live in Concert. Curren$y was also a member of Young Money Entertainment, a record label founded by Lil Wayne. They too have often worked together. Doors open 7:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Khalifa in full rap mode.

Khalifa in full rap mode at 2017’s Thrival Music Festival. (photo: Rick Handler)

Tuesday, March 5

This year’s Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? is the latest entry into Deerhunter’s critically lauded discography, one which includes 2010’s Halcyon Digest. The band was formed in Atlanta in 2001. You may recognize frontman Bradford Cox from the 2013 movie Dallas Buyers Club. He played Sunflower, Rayon (Jared Leto)’s lover. Other longtime members include guitarist Lockett Pundt and drummer Moses Archuleta. The band has experienced tragedy. Cox was hit by a car in 2014, but recovered. Original bassist Justin Bosworth died in 2004, and bassist Josh Fauver, who was a member from 2004 to 2012, died last year. Still, they are touring this winter and spring, including a show at Mr. Smalls Theatre. The last time Deerhunter played Mr. Smalls, the members brought a child on stage to play guitar during the last song, an extended jam which saw Cox singing snippets of Patti Smith’s “Land.” Who knows what their upcoming show will bring? L’Rain opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Saturday, March 9

You can definitely “Get Down On It” with Kool & the Gang in concert. With hits like “Celebration,” “Misled,” and  “Fresh,” Kool & The Gang are one of the premier funk bands of the 1970’s and ’80s. The group was started in the 1960s by Robert “Kool” Bell and his brother Ronald. The Gang’s first chart success came with 1973’s Wild and Peaceful  album that spun off the hits “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging.” Kool & the Gang continued to chart in the ensuing decades, and they’ll be at Rivers Casino in the new event center. 8 p.m. Sold out. 777 Casino Dr., North Shore. (RH)

Casting Crowns will headline the PPG Paints Arena. From student-worship band to arena act, independent albums to top-selling Billboard Christian music act, Casting Crowns have risen meteorically since forming in 1999 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Meanwhile the members, now based in Georgia, haven’t forgotten their roots. Many still continue to minister. This includes frontman Mark Hall, who is also the author of many faith-based books. The moving “Oh My Soul,” from 2016’s The Very Next Thing, addresses his battle with cancer. Casting Crowns broke with their self-titled 2003 album, which went platinum. Their next album, 2005’s Lifesong, won a Grammy for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album. They released an EP, It’s Finally Christmas, in 2017 and an LP, Only Jesus, in 2018. Zach Williams, whose album Chain Breaker won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album in 2018, opens as does Austin French. 7 p.m. 1001 5th Ave., Uptown. (CM)


Thursday, March 14

PPG Paints Arena hosts British folk-rock group Mumford & Sons. They have enjoyed a surge of success in the United States over the years since forming in London in 2007. Their hilarious 2013 video for “Hopeless Wanderer” stormed the Internet. The video is a self-parody with comedians Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, Will Forte, and Jason Bateman playing the band members. The imposters perform, drink beer, and smash their instruments in a Californian ranch setting. But when it comes to creating and producing great music, the band puts aside all silliness, as evidenced by multiple Grammy nominations and wins. Mumford & Sons’ latest release is 2018’s Delta, which incorporates electronic elements to their sound. Look for them to perform old faves and new songs. Cat Power, who is touring 2018’s Wanderer, opens. The single “Woman” features Lana Del Rey, and the album also includes a cover of Rihanna’s “Stay.” 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (RH, CM)

Friday, March 15

Twice the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has inducted Graham Nash: once with folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills, and Nash and a second time with British pop group The Hollies. With the Hollies, Nash sang on pop songs like 1964’sTo You My Love.” With CSN, he wrote some of their biggest hits, like 1970’s “Our House,” which also features occasional CSN-collaborator Neil Young. In both acts, Nash lent his guitar stylings and distinct tenor vocals, both of which are sure to be on display for his solo show at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. He knows people will be coming to hear hits like “Our House,” “Guinnevere,” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” But fans can also expect a few newer compositions as well from his latest studio album, 2016s, The Path Tonight. In addition to being a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Nash is also an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to both charity and music. An Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories with Graham Nash begins at 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th St., Munhall. (CM)

Saturday, March 16

Winger, the New York City hard rock band known for hits likeSeventeen andHeaded for a Heartbreak plays Jergel’s this month. Right at home with their glam metal peers—Bon Jovi, Tesla, and Van Halen— these guys shred, screech, and combine to form a sound worthy of an arena. Presumably, not unlike the aforementioned Van Halen, Winger derives their name from the surname of the band’s founder, Kip Winger, who played with Alice Cooper before striking out on his own. Today Winger is composed of Winger, Reb Beach (also of Whitesnake and from Pittsburgh), Rod Morgenstein, Paul Taylor, John Roth, and Donnie Wayne Smith. As is common for bands like Winger, their histories aren’t free of tumult—in 1994, as glam metal diminished in popularity and other musical forms took its place, Winger disbanded for about seven years. In 2001, however, the band reformed and has continued to rock on. Their latest release is 2014’s Better Days Comin’. 8 p.m. Sold out. Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (EC, RH)

Winger jamming in a 2007 photo (l. to r.) John Roth, Kip Winger, and Reb Beach. photo: Rick Audet and Exxolon.

Winger jamming in a 2007 photo (l. to r.) John Roth, Kip Winger, and Reb Beach. (photo: Rick Audet and Exxolon.)

Joe Bonamassa is a blues rock guitar virtuoso, whose soaring lead guitar riffs are heavily influenced by British players, including Eric Clapton, John Mayall, and Jeff Beck. He opened for B.B. King when he was all of 12 years old.  Bonamassa’s albums have occupied the number one spot on the Billboard Blues Chart 11 times. Many people will remember Bonamassa from his PBS concert specials. 2018’s Redemption is his latest studio release. Pittsburgh has many great guitarists who enjoy seeing other talented players, which is evidenced by the brisk ticket sales for this show. 8 p.m. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (RH)

Non-profit Creative.Life.Support Records is having a launch party at Mr. Smalls Theatre. The new label includes Social Justice Disco, a collaboration between area musicians Phat Man Dee and Liz Berlin. The former is a jazz singer; the latter is a founding member of Rusted Root and co-owner of Smalls. The launch party also celebrates the worldwide digital release of Social Justice Disco’s album, Songs to Fight Fascists By. These songs include originals and covers, such as “Have You Been To Jail for Justice?” (Local musician and activist Anne Feeney wrote that tune, and Peter, Paul and Mary popularized it.) Phat Man Dee & The Cultural District, the Liz Berlin Band, Drowning Clowns, and MCs Big Jus and Streetwalker will perform. Geña, Steel Town Horns, Lita D’Vargas, Johnny Creed Coe & Family, and Pastor Deryck Tines and members of the Lemington Gospel Chorale, will play too. Additionally, local poets Christina Springer and Leslie Ezra Smith will perform their work. 6 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Monday, March 18

Mariah Carey is an amazing American pop vocalist. Having been blessed with a five-octave vocal range singing voice she has had fantastic success on the song charts. Carey’s accomplishments include: her first album topped the US Billboard 200 for 11 consecutive weeks, the first and only artist to have their first five singles reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and her “One Sweet Day” (with Boyz II Men) became the longest-running U.S. number-one single in history. Carey has also has won five Grammy Awards, 10 American Music Awards, 19 World Music Awards, and 14 Billboard Music Awards. She has also overcome obstacles including a period of emotional exhaustion from her bipolar II disorder. Caution is Carey’s latest album release, having dropped in November 2018. As an added bonus she is in concert at the more intimate Benedum Center as opposed to a larger venue. 8 p.m. 237 7th St., Cultural District. (RH)

Mariah Carey at the Elton John Oscar Party in 2016. (photo: Fashion Passport TV and Wikipedia)

Mariah Carey at the Elton John Oscar Party in 2016. (photo: Fashion Passport TV and Wikipedia)

Tuesday, March 19

Just a few days after the pinnacle of our immersion in Irish culture, green beer, and whiskey, and are starting to long for some cheerful Celtic music again, Celtic Woman are playing the Benedum Center. The multi-platinum-selling group of angelic-voiced women rose to fame on their vocal talents and quality production values. Many people learned of the group through their popular performance specials on PBS. Sharon Browne; David Downes, a former musical director of the long-running Irish stage show Riverdance; and David Kavangh created the ensemble. Members have changed over the years, and the current Celtic Woman lineup is Máiréad Carlin, Éabha McMahon, Tara McNeill, and Megan Walsh. The group is currently on its Ancient Land tour. 7 p.m. 237 7th St., Cultural District. (RH)

Wednesday, March 20

Blues/rock guitarist Gary Clark Jr. started appearing on the national radar when he played the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2011 and 2012. Also in 2012, he performed as part of a musical tribute at the White House called “Red, White, and Blues.” For that concert, he performed solo and with the legendary musical performers B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, and Buddy Guy. PBS televised the concert. Clark Jr. rose out of Austin, Texas, playing at the same club—Antone’s— that launched brothers Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughan years earlier. Clark Jr.’s incendiary runs on his Epiphone, Gibson, or Stratocaster guitars can be heard on songs like “When My Train Pulls In” and “Bright Lights.” He’s touring in support of his just released studio album, This Land. Clark Jr. has also landed some TV and film roles. His songs can be heard in several soundtracks as well. 8 p.m. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (RH)

Gary Clark, Jr. performing at the North Coast Music Festival in Chicago in 2013. photo: Alize Tran, Wikipedia.

Gary Clark, Jr. performing at the North Coast Music Festival in Chicago in 2013. photo: Alize Tran, Wikipedia.

Friday, March 22

Progressive rock jam band Umphrey’s McGee, from the Fighting Irish town of Notre Dame, Indiana, will be in concert at Stage AE. Influenced by the likes of the Grateful Dead, Yes, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd, their unique sound can be heard in the songs “Wizard Burial Ground” and “Mulche’s Odyssey.” In 2018, they released their 11th album, It’s Not Us, to mark their 20th anniversary. Guitarist and vocalist Brendan Bayliss got the idea for the record during a Cubs game that he attended. The game was six months before the Cubs won the World Series in 2016. Then, a week after they clinched that series, the band members entered Chicago’s I.V. Labs Studio. (Nothing like America’s pastime to get the creative muse speaking.) The band continued the anniversary celebration with a 12th album, It’s You, also released in 2018. Umphrey’s McGee, who performed at the first Bonnaroo Music Festival, are known for their live shows: all solos and bright lights. Big Something open. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (RH, CM)

Sunday, March 24

Jukebox the Ghost and the Mowgli’s co-headline Mr. Smalls Theatre. Jukebox the Ghost formed in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The trio has opened for Ben Folds and Motion City Soundtrack. Television appearances include the “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Conan.” Jukebox the Ghost’s website cites that the band has played “almost a thousand shows.” It has also released five albums, including 2018’s Off to the Races. The highlights keep coming. “Everybody’s Lonely” charted on Billboard’s Alternative Songs—the first time a single charted for the band. The Mowgli’s, meanwhile, are from southern California, but the band members lost their “head in San Francisco, waiting for the fog to roll out.” The band has toured with groups such as American Authors, and its television appearances include “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Conan.”  The Mowgli’s latest LP, its fourth, is 2016’s Where’d Your Weekend Go? Look out for an EP, American Feelings, out this March. Twin XL opens. 7 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Friday, March 29

Indie-rock singer-songwriter Mitski went from selling out Cattivo to selling out Mr. Smalls Theatre in just over a year. Listen to the operatic “Geyser,” a love song which takes off at about the 1:19 mark, to understand why. “Geyser” is the first song on Mitski’s fifth album, Be the Cowboy, which topped many a best-of list last year, including Consequence of Sound’s The Top 50 Albums of 2018 and Pitchfork’s The 50 Best Albums of 2018. Born Mitski Miyawaki, she studied music at Purchase College in New York. She self-released two albums while still a student. Her third album, Bury Me at Makeout Creek, was released in 2014 on Double Double Whammy records. It was well-received, as was her last album, 2016’s Puberty 2. She’s had a great discography so far, and her career will continue to be one to watch. Jay Som opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Saturday, March 30

Face-painted rock bad boys, Kiss, are one of the top-selling bands of all time. Started in New York City in 1973, the band was one of the early pioneers in rock theatrics incorporating fire, smoking guitars, flash pots and rockets into their shows. Still driven by founding members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, the band has ridden the wave of classic rock nostalgia and still attracts sizable crowds. The makeup and costumes are based on cartoon characters they created, with Stanley as The Starchild and Simmons as The Demon. Several of their biggest hits rose the charts to rock radio fame in the ‘70s including “Rock ‘n Roll All Night” “Beth” and “Detroit Rock City.” Yes, Kiss is a very dramatic band but they have also created powerful rock songs and ballads. Kiss is on their End of the Road World Tour. Catch ‘em while you can. 7:30 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (RH)

Other Suggested Concerts

Saturday, March 2

River City Brass band is a respected unit on the Pittsburgh music scene. They are continuing their Celtic Connections III which pays tribute to the musical heritage of Ireland, Scotland, and Appalachia. This years selections include: “Amazing Grace,” “Highland Cathedral,” “Danny Boy,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Top,” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” 7:30 p.m. Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Friday, March 8

A grand slam of local music at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. Garter Shake combines vocals from three of its members to craft powerful yet catchy songs about feminism and politics. The band’s new EP is 2018’s Dirty Hair. Swiss Army, an alternative/punk band, also released an album last year, Paris Mountain. Meeting of Important People are celebrating 10 years since releasing its debut LP and playing a cardboard city. And Lindsay Dragan provides the garage folk. 7:30 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Tuesday, March 12 through Thursday March 14

The Strand Theater is the pride of Zelienople and among their programming this month is Irish singing group, The Celtic Tenors. The Tenors have been visiting The Strand since 2011. This year The Strand is collaborating with The Tenors on their program which tells the story of the Tenors and Ireland. “Danny Boy” and “Whiskey in the Jar” are two classic Irish songs they may be performing. They will also be featuring local, hand-picked professionals on an original, exclusive production called Celtic Crossroads. 119 North Main St. (RH)

Friday, March 15

If you’ve ever heard the classic country rock song “Mountain Music” than you’ve heard the group Alabama (although other artists have covered it). The group is actually from Alabama, Fort Payne, to be exact. During the bands Heyday in the 1980’s, Alabama added to their total of over 27 No. 1 hits. Now they are on their 50th Anniversary Tour and fans can see them in Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena. 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown (RH)

If you prefer a fun yet more dignified celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, then Club Cafe‘s eighth annual The Calm Before the Storm – A Night of Irish Traditional Music and Song with Mark Dignam & Friends might be the ticket for you. Mark Dignam was raised in Finglas, a North Side Dublin suburb, where he showed early aptitude as a singer. He moved to Dublin at 18 and began busking on Grafton Street. He is now Pittsburgh-based and performs with his band, The House of Song, The tradition continues. 8 p.m. 56 – 58 S. 12th St., South Side. (CM)

Saturday, March 16

Think traditional Celtic music but with some extra beats per minute—that’s Bastard Bearded Irishmen. The local group is helping Pittsburgh usher in St. Patrick’s Day with a party at the Rex Theater. Their latest album is 2018’s Drinkin’ to the Dead. Brave the Sea and Latecomer open. 8 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. (EC, CM)

Tuesday, March 19

American country-classical chamber music is one way the Punch Brothers have been described, which is especially interesting since they hail from Brooklyn, N.Y. Their unique sound derives from combining the mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar, stand-up bass, and fiddle with a contemporary vocal style from Chris Thile. Special guest is Gabriel Kahane8 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District. (RH)

Allissa Logsdon is a rising pop music artist who is currently honing her craft both at Point Park University and on area stages. She gave a lively performance at Paint the Square Green last year in Market Square. An accomplished vocalist and keyboardist, she is headlining (Point Park’s) Pioneer Records Presents: The Allissa Logsdon/SouthWest DFRNT Release Party at The Club at Stage AE. One of her latest songs is “Keep the Light On.” Doors open. 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (RH)

Thursday, March 21

Born in Pikeville, Kentucky, and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Dwight Yoakam has made quite a career for himself. Known for his unique country rock sound, Yoakam soared to success in the 1980s and has recorded five Billboard No. 1 albums, 12 gold albums, and nine platinum albums, including This Time, which achieved triple-platinum status. Fun fact: Yoakam is the most frequent guest in the history of NBC’s “The Tonight Show.” He has two new singles out “Pretty Horses” and “Then Here Came Monday.”  Yoakam also has numerous film and TV credits. Opening is Noah Guthrie. 8 p.m. Palace Theatre,21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Saturday, March 23

Pittsburgh rock royalty Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers have remained a constant on the Pittsburgh music scene as the city morphed from steel mills to high-tech foundry. Grushecky is a consummate singer/songwriter. Grushecky and The Houserockers have recently released their new, first-rate album, More Yesterdays than Tomorrows. There are many hot tracks on the release. 8 p.m. The Meadows, 210 Racetrack Rd., Washington. (RH)

Sunday, March 24

Californian rockers Buckcherry, best known for their 2006 songs “Crazy Bitch” and “Sorry,” bring their tatted arms, loud voices, and instruments of rock to Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. Their new album, War Paint, comes out this March. Joyous Wolf opens. 7:30 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (RH, CM)

Pat Metheny’s newest project, Side Eye, is coming to the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. The project will rotate members, but for now, it features James Francies on keyboard and piano and Nate Smith on drums. Metheny is a jazz guitarist, who released his debut album, Bright Size Life, in 1976. He formed the Pat Metheny Group in 1977. The group collaborated with David Bowie on “This Is Not America,” which was released in 1985. 8 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. (CM)

Thursday, March 28

The Interrupters are a ska-punk band, who have toured with The English Beat and played the Vans Warped Tour. They come to Mr. Smalls Theatre in support of their 2018 album, “Fight the Good Fight.” Their song “Family” features Tim Armstrong from Rancid. Masked Intruder and Ratboy opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Saturday, March 30

Bill Toms and Hard Rain with the Soulville Horns will be rockin’ out Club Cafe for a new live CD release party from a performance they recorded there last year. Toms’ 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 last release was Good For My Soul. Should be a fun evening. Special guest is Jimbo Jackson. 8 p.m. Club Cafe, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (RH)

On the Radar

April 4
Jeff Tweedy (Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland)

April 5
The Clarks (Jergel’s)

April 7
Adrian Belew (The Rex)

April 8
REO Speedwagon (The Palace)

April 10
Allman Betts Band (Jergel’s)
The Red Elvises (Hard Rock)

April 12
Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Mele Mel, Scorpio, Furious 5 (Jergel’s)
Less Than Jake (Mr. Smalls)

April 14
Jon Andersen, Founder of Yes (Carnegie of Homestead)

April 15
Citizen Cope (Byham)

April 18
Cher (PPG Paints Arena)

April 26
Everclear (The Meadows)

April 27
Eels (Mr. Smalls)
Elle King (Stage AE)
Blues Traveler (Rivers Casino)

April 30
Son Volt (Mr. Smalls)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.