October 2021 Concert Guide: The Stones, Black Pumas, Jonas Brothers, Sheila E., Brian Wilson, and Eric Church

Rolling Stones concert in the Giuseppe-Meazza-Stadion in Milan on July 11, 2006. Photo courtesy of Severino.

Rolling Stones concert in the Giuseppe-Meazza-Stadion in Milan on July 11, 2006. Photo courtesy of Severino and Wikipedia..

After a tough 2020 and 2021 due to covid and its variants, concerts are continuing, albeit many with precautionary measures. Big acts that are playing the ‘Burgh this month include one of the biggest of the big—The Rolling Stones; and also Eric Church, The Jonas Brothers, Dierks Bentley, Kiss, Mavis Staples, and Harry Styles.

There are a number of mid-level, high quality performers this month, those acts include Black Pumas, Dawes, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Jill Sobule, and Keller Williams.

There will also be a musical genius in our midst too when Brian Wilson, co-founder of the Beach Boys plays the Palace Theatre. Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers are the big headliner for Johnstown’s Flood City Music Festival. Many local bands are on that bill too including the Billy Price Band and the Jukehouse Bombers. Sheila E. and Rita Wilson are headlining the annual Women Who Rock extravaganza.

This guide features (in chronological order) spotlighted picks, other shows of interest, and big shows on the horizon. Music can be spiritually uplifting and we can all probably use some of that. So get out there and see what pleases you, whether it’s one of our concerts or something entirely different. And please stay safe.

Christopher Maggio (C.M.) was a major contributor to this guide.

Entertainment Central Spotlighted Picks

Friday, October 1

Mavis Staples kicks off the 2021 Blues Heritage Festival at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. An icon of not only music but also civil rights, she began her career with her family’s band, The Staple Singers. The group recorded inspiring songs, such as “Long Walk to D.C.” and a cover of “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” by Bob Dylan. (Mavis Staples later befriended Dylan, and she opened his concert at Heinz Hall in 2017.) Other artists have always been eager to collaborate with her. Some of these include Curtis Mayfield (1977’s A Piece of the Action soundtrack), Prince (1989’s Time Waits for No One and 1993’s The Voice), and Arcade Fire (2017’s “I Give You Power”). She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Her latest album is 2019’s We Get By. 8 p.m. 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (C.M.)

Friday, October 1 – Saturday, October 2

Billed as “a celebration of American music,” the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, showcases blues, country, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, and soul. Almost 15 acts are scheduled. The main headlining bands are Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, Maggie Rose, and Uprooted featuring Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root. Other highlights include: Midnight North, Billy Price Band, Jukebox Bombers, and Flower Child. Single-day, two-day, and VIP passes are available. The festival takes place at Peoples Natural Gas Park. Its origins hark back to a 1989 street fair that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood. 90 Johns St., Johnstown. (C.M., R.H.)

Monday, October 4

The Rolling Stones are playing their postponed 2020 concert at Heinz Field this month. What more needs to be said? Unless you’re very young, very old, or an extraterrestrial, you’ve probably got a pretty good awareness of who The Stones are. But just in case, here’s some info about them. The Stones were a part of the British pop and rock invasion which started in the early 1960s. They are the yin to the Beatles’ yang. While the Beatles were seen as lovable guys with mop-top haircuts who created beautiful music, The Stones’ sound was a little rougher and the band members seemed a little dangerous.

Mick Jagger, The Stones lead vocalist and front man, was a contemporary of Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol. Warhol created the concept for the band’s Sticky Fingers album and the cover art for Love You Live. Like Warhol, Jagger is an astute businessman (having attended the prestigious London School of Economics) and has created multiple revenue streams for the band. Another Pittsburgh tie is that the Beatles made a decision not to come to the U.S. until they had a number one song here. The Stones made no such pledge and played the former West View Park’s Danceland on their first American tour in  1964. The audience was mid-sized and enthusiastic; they were just on their way to becoming famous. Other longtime band members are Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood. Unfortunately Charlie Watts, one of the best drummers ever, moved on to the drum kit in the sky in August. The Stones have a touching tribute to him on this tour. Sitting in for Watts on this tour, is Steve Jordan, who has played with Keith Richards on his side projects for years. He also was the Blues Brothers’ drummer on their recordings.

The Stones have one of the best song catalogs in rock history. Highlights include: “Gimme Shelter,” “Beast of Burden,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker).” Opening act is Pittsburgh resident and part owner of the Steelers, Thomas Tull’s band Ghost Hounds. 8 p.m. 100 Art Rooney Ave., North Shore.

Wednesday, October 6

Jonas Brothers are in concert at the Pavilion at Star Lake this month. The brothers, Kevin, Joe, and Nick got their start performing in their home state of New Jersey. After releasing their second album in 2007, Disney came-a-calling and they subsequently appeared in the Disney films Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam. They then went on to star in two TV series on the Disney Channel, “Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream” and “Jonas.” The Brothers were nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009 for Best New Artist. The pop rockers have recorded five albums including their latest, 2019’s Happiness Begins. Special guest is Kelsea Ballerini. 7 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (RH)

The Jonas Brothers performing on tour in 2019. (photo: musicharts and Wikipedia)

The Jonas Brothers performing on tour in 2019. (photo: musicharts and Wikipedia)

Friday, October 8

Country star Eric Church will headline PPG Paints Arena. His most recent album is Heart & Soul, which he released as three records (Heart, &, and Soul) over three different days in April 2021. & was released exclusively to his fanclub, the Church Choir, as a vinyl record. Church is from North Carolina, but like many country artists before him, he pursued his musical dream in Nashville. He released his debut album, Sinners Like Me, in 2006. His first song to enter Billboard’s Hot 100 Top 20 was “Springsteen.” You bet a song named after the Boss is going to have crossover potential. It helped that the tune told a vivid story over uplifting guitar chords, just as the Boss’s songs do. The video’s pretty good too. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (C.M.)

Monday, October 11

Lukas Nelson met drummer Anthony LoGerfo at a Neil Young concert in 2008 and they started playing gigs together around Los Angeles, California. Soon thereafter, Nelson left his studies at Loyola Marymount University to pursue his music dreams full-time. He added several other musicians to form Promise of the Real. The versatile band has a sound that can range from rock, to country, to Americana. In 2009 they opened for Lukas’ dad, the legendary country singer/songwriter Willie Nelson, for a nine show tour. Since then Nelson and the band have released seven studio albums with 2017’s self-titled album reaching no. 2 on Billboard’s country chart. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have also backed  Neil Young several times since 2015 and have even recorded two albums with him. Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real were also in the 2018 remake of the film A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. They appear as Bradley Cooper’s band. Nelson co-produced the music and even wrote some songs for the movie with Gaga. Nelson and his band headlined a concert at the 2018 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. 7 p.m.  Roxian Theatre, 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (R.H.)

Lukas Nelson jamming on his guitar. (Photo: Rick Handler).

Lukas Nelson jamming on his guitar at a headlining performance at the 2018 Three Rivers Arts Festival. (Photo: Rick Handler).

Tuesday, October 12

Singer-songwriter Jill Sobule is returning to Pittsburgh’s Club Cafe almost 20 years after recording her live DVD, Live in Pittsburgh, at the same venue. And also one year after recording her concert film F*ck7thGrade with City Theatre at Hazelwood Green (see our story and interview with Sobule). She will have plenty of new material to add to the set list since that 2003 recording—she’s released eight albums since then, including 2018’s Nostalgia Kills and five EPs. Her biggest commercial hit came from 1995’s self-titled album, featuring the singles “I Kissed A Girl” and “Supermodel,” which were featured on the Clueless movie soundtrack. Since then, Sobule’s sound has evolved into a narrative, folk-influenced style, which has won her a dedicated following. 8 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (EC, RH)

Wednesday, October 13

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. Special guest is David Garibaldi. 7:30 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake, 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Black Pumas will perform at Mr. Smalls Theatre. The duo, which is based in Austin, Texas, mixes multiple genres, including psychedelic soul and R&B. On the road, they perform with a full backing band, as seen on such talk shows as “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Their 2019 self-titled debut album generated plenty of buzz, and they received a Best New Artist nomination at the 2020 Grammy Awards. The party continued when the deluxe edition of their debut received an Album of the Year nomination in 2021. “Colors” is a standout original song, and some notable covers by the group include “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman and “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles. The show is already sold out. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (C.M.)

Thursday, October 14

Harry Styles headlines PPG Paints Arena. Styles was one of five young men who auditioned separately for the seventh season of the British version of The X-Factor. All failed in the bootcamp stage of the Boys category, but someone, potentially Simon Cowell, had the brilliant idea to put them together in the Groups category. Voilà, One Direction was born. The boy band placed third but had an amazing career afterwards. Then in March 2015, the group announced the departure of Zayn Malik. All of One Direction went on hiatus in 2016. Styles, meanwhile, like Justin Timberlake before him, has moved from boy band to successful solo career. “Watermelon Sugar” was his first number-one single on Billboard’s Hot 100. It’s from his sophomore album, 2019’s Fine Line. Jenny Lewis, an acclaimed singer-songwriter who headlined the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival in 2015, opens. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (C.M.)

Saturday, October 16

Vanderbilt University is one of the nation’s finest, and while many college-bound youths enroll there to become scientists or scholars, young Dierks Bentley chose Vanderbilt for a different reason: it’s in Nashville. The hard-working undergrad from Phoenix, Arizona, earned his B.A. in 1997, officially studying English and the liberal arts while unofficially pursuing the highly competitive art of country music. By 2001, Bentley had progressed from fighting for open-mic slots to cutting an indie album. That release, Don’t Leave Me in Love, didn’t sell much but is now a collector’s item. It led to a contract with Capitol Records Nashville, which led to Bentley’s self-titled platinum album in 2003, and the rest is history. Bentley has been nominated for 14 Grammy Awards, and not having won one yet probably has him feeling like soap star Susan Lucci, who was nominated for a Daytime Emmy 18 times before eventually winning one. So hang in there, Dierks! Bentley is on his Beers on Me Tour. His most recent release is 2018’s The Mountain. You can catch him at the Pavilion at Star Lake with special guests Mitchell Tenpenny and The Cadillac Three. 7 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (E.C., R.H.)

It’s a night of Women Who Rock at Stage AE. Sheila E., a noted drummer, singer, and frequent collaborator with the late Prince, headlines. (The pair collaborated on 1986’s “A Love Bizarre.”) Very special guest actor/singer Rita Wilson will also be performing. The Gibson Gives event also features Lauren Monroe with Special Guest Rick Allen of Def Leppard, The Vindys, DJ Femi, and emcee Michele Michaels of 102.5 WDVE. Additionally, ticketholders can enjoy the Women Who Rock Beauty Bar featuring mini-services, giveaways, and perks, rockstar silent auction offering one-of-a-kind experiences and autographed music memorabilia, photo booth, pink carpet entrance, the Women Who Rock pop-up shop, and an interactive women’s health activation. Proceeds benefit women’s health at Magee-Womens Research Institute & Foundation. 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M., R.H.)

Tuesday, October 19

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 under the banner of Greatest Hits Live. 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 touring in advance of his upcoming album, At My Piano. Special guests are Beach Boys’ founding member Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin. 8 p.m. The Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (R.H.)

Thursday, October 28

Dawes drew a large crowd for their 2017 concert at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. For this Pittsburgh visit you can find them at the Roxian Theatre. An earlier, more post-punk incarnation of the Los Angeles quartet was called “Simon Dawes.” The moniker came from the middle names of members Blake Mills and Taylor Goldsmith. (When Mills left, the group dropped the “Simon.”) The band went in a folk rock direction and in 2009 recorded and released its debut album, North Hills. In 2014, members and brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith played on Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes. The album was based on uncovered lyrics handwritten by Bob Dylan in 1967 during the recording of material that eventually was released in 1975 on the album The Basement Tapes. Elvis Costello, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, Rhiannon Giddens, and many others also contributed. Mills returned to produce Dawes’s 2016 album, 2016’s We’re All Gonna Die. Dawes latest release is 2020’s Good Luck with Whatever. Opening is Erin Rae. 7 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks.  (C.M.) 

Dawes jamming the Arts Festival audience. (l. to r.), Duane Betts, Lee Pardini, Taylor Goldsmith, Griffin Goldsmith, and Wylie Gelber.

Dawes jamming the Arts Festival audience. (l. to r.), Trevor Menear, Lee Pardini, Taylor Goldsmith, Griffin Goldsmith, and Wylie Gelber. (photo: Rick Handler)

“One-man jam band.” The phrase may appear oxymoronic. That is, until you see Keller Williams live, playing songs like “Freeker by the Speaker.” The Virginia native, active since 1991, often loops guitar, bass, and percussion while playing solo, creating the effect of a full band. Williams isn’t beneath asking for a little help from his friends. He’s recorded, performed, and toured with bluegrass group the String Cheese Incident, and he’s played in a number of additional ensembles. 2019’s Speed is by Keller and the Keels (the Keels are Jenny and Larry, who are wife and husband, bassist and guitarist, respectively). Williams’s other recent projects include 2017’s Raw and 2018’s Sans. He and the HillBenders brought PettyGrass, bluegrass interpretations of Tom Petty songs, to Pittsburgh in 2019. Now he and Love Canon, a Charlottesville Americana group, bring Grateful Grass to the Byham Theater. They will perform bluegrass interpretations of Grateful Dead songs. 7 p.m. 101 6th St., Cultural District. (C.M.)

Saturday, October 30

Machine Gun Kelly (MGK, née Richard Colson Baker) will play the Petersen Events Center. MGK is a rapper and musician from Cleveland who has touched multiple facets of pop culture. With Camila Cabello, he recorded “Bad Things,” which samples Fastball’s “Out of My Head,” in 2016. He was to open for Linkin Park on the band’s One More Light Tour, but the tour was canceled following the 2017 death of singer Chester Bennington. His acting credits include his portrayal of drummer Tommy Lee in The Dirt, a Netflix biopic of Mötley Crüe. 2020’s Tickets to My Downfall is his fifth album. It contains a more pop-punk sound, with Travis Barker, blink-182’s drummer, producing. Born with Horns is to follow in 2021. Jxdn and KennyHoopla open. 7:30 p.m. 3719 Terrace St., Oakland. (C.M.)

Other Shows of Note

Sunday, October 3
Blackberry Smoke (Palace Theatre)

Tuesday, October 5
Bahamas (Mr. Smalls)
Primus (Stage AE)

Thursday, October 7
Here Come the Mummies (Vinoski Winery)

Saturday, October 9
Lil Baby (Pavilion at Star Lake)
Joe Grushecky (Dormont Festival)
Donnie Iris (Roxian Theatre)

Monday, October 11
Jake Shimabukuro (The Oaks)

Tuesday, October 12
Robert Finley (Crafthouse)

Thursday, October 14
Jimmy Vaughn (Jergel’s)

Friday, October 15
Drive-By Truckers (Mr. Smalls Theatre)
Knotfest Roadshow: Slipknot, Killswitch Engage, Fever 333,
Code Orange (Pavilion at Star Lake)
Little River Band (Palace Theatre)

Wednesday, October 20
Rival Sons (Stage AE)
Flock of Seagulls (Jergel’ss)
Chris Cain (Thunderbird Cafe)
Cahal Dunne (The Palace)

Friday, October 22
Steve Forbert (Club Cafe)

Saturday, October 23
Scott, Rob, and Greg of The Clarks (Vinoski Winery)

Sunday, October 24
Little Anthony and The Imperials (The Palace)

Wednesday, October 27
Vanilla Fudge (Jergel’s)

Saturday, October 30
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (Stage AE)
Walk the Moon (The Roxian)

Several Big Concerts On the Horizon

Tuesday, November 2
Los Lobos (Mr. Smalls Theatre)

Friday, November 5
The Outlaws (Pepsi Roadhouse)

Tuesday, November 9
Cheap Trick (The Palace Theatre)

Wednesday, November 10
Gary Clark Jr. (Stage AE)

Thursday, November 11
The Flaming Lips (Stage AE)

Friday, November 12
Silversun Pickups (Stage AE) 

Saturday, November 13
Aaron Lee Tasjan (Club Cafe)

Sunday, November 14
Adrianne Lenker (Mr. Smalls Theatre)

Monday, November 15
Bob Dylan (UPMC Events Center)

Thursday, November 18
Jeff Rosenstock (Mr. Smalls Theatre)

Saturday, November 20
Anti-Flag (Roxian Theatre)
Brothers Osborne (UPMC Events center

Monday, November 22
Steely Dan (Benedum Center)
CHVRCHES (Stage AE)

Sunday, November 28
Pentatonix (Petersen Events Center)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.