September 2019 Concert Guide: Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Future, ZZ Top, and Thom Yorke

Jason Aldean performing at a 2014 concert. (photo: Morgan Williams and Wikipedia)

Jason Aldean performing at a 2014 concert. (photo: Morgan Williams and Wikipedia)

There is still some major twang in this summer’s concert season with Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, and Toby Keith all playing Pittsburgh. PPG Paints Arena host several big acts this month including: The Jonas Brothers with Bebe Rexha; Chris Brown; and the Backstreet Boys. Future and Meek Mill play a show together at KeyBank Pavilion. There’s also an interesting classic rock double feature of ZZ Top and Cheap Trick. Noted drummer Max Weinberg brings his “Jukebox” to The Roxian to perform fan favorites. Charlie Musselwhite’s musical career has taken him through the zeniths of both the Chicago blues and San Francisco rock scenes, is in concert at the August Wilson Cultural Center. Thrival Music Festival is at Schenley Plaza in Oakland. Tom Yorke, of Radiohead fame, and Built to Spill are other major highlights.

Our selection of hometown heroes this month includes Roger Humphries, Bill Toms and Hard Rain, and Andre Costello and the Cool Minors. There’s also two festivals featuring local talent—The Allegheny County Music Festival and Ladyfest. The weather is just right in September to enjoy 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.

Tuesday, September 3

Jonas Brothers are in concert at PPG Paints Arena this month. We can only hope that the stage show will be as big of a brilliant spectacle as Nick Jonas’ wedding to actress Priyanka Chopra was when they got married in India last year. 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 this year’s Happiness Begins, which was released in June. Special guests are pop singer/songwriter Bebe Rexha and Jordan McGraw. 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (RH)

Thursday, September 5 (Cancelled)

Listen to the drumming on the Bruce Springsteen songs “Backstreets” and “Prove It All Night,” and you can see that drummer Max Weinberg provides a strong foundation for the E Street Band to rock on. The Hall of Fame drummer has also played on two of the top-selling rock albums in history: Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell. In many Springsteen shows, fans yell out or hold up signs of songs that they want the band to play. Weinberg is using a similar method for his latest tour with his talented and versatile band, Max Weinberg’s Jukebox. He and the band will perform songs from the early days of rock and roll, and the audience gets to choose from a video menu of over 200 hit songs, ranging from the Beatles to the Stones to Springsteen and the E Street Band. Best of all, you don’t need to plug any quarters in; simply buy a ticket before they’re gone. 8 p.m. Roxian Theatre, 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (RH) This show has been CANCELLED.

Friday, September 6

Guns N’ Roses did it with Use Your Illusion I and II in 1991. Bruce Springsteen did it with Human Touch and Lucky Town in 1992. Sweat and Suit saw Nelly trying his hand in 2004. I write of releasing two albums on the same day. With Future and Hndrxx, Atlanta rapper Future tried something nearly the same: releasing two albums one week apart. A slight tweak on an old schtick made all the difference. Future became the first artist to consecutively debut two albums at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. His latest is the EP Save Me, released this year. He also released a music video, “100 Shooters,” featuring Meek Mill and Doe Boy, in August. Future and Meek Mill will perform at KeyBank Pavilion. Meek Mill is from Philadelphia, and he also has topped the Billboard 200. 2018’s Championships went to number one. Free Meek, a five-part series which premiered on Amazon Prime Video, recounts his legal battles. YG and Mustard open. 7 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (CM)

Wednesday, September, 11

Texas rockers ZZ Top is composed of Billy Gibbons (guitar, lead vocals) Dusty Hill (bass, co-lead vocalist), and Frank Beard (drummer). Gibbons and Hill have beards but Beard does not. Some of their 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. Cheap Trick is a quintessential ’70s rock band. They sang “Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird, surrender …” for their big hit “Surrender.” Other highly successful songs are  “I Want You to Want Me,” and “The Flame.” Cheap Trick formed in Rockford, Illinois, in 1973. Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, and crew’s most recent releases are 2017’s We’re All Alright! And Christmas Christmas. 7 p.m. KeyBank Pavilion, 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (RH)

Saturday, September 14

Slip on your cowboy boots, button up your finest flannel, and head down to KeyBank Pavilion, where Jason Aldean takes center stage. Aldean has accumulated many awards over his career, including Male Vocalist of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year at 2013’s Academy of Country Music Awards. He was born in Macon, Georgia and moved to Nashville at 21. His 2005 self-titled debut cemented his success; “Why” became his first number-one single on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas when a gunman fired into the crowd. Fifty-eight people died; another 851 were injured. The following Saturday, Aldean opened “Saturday Night Live” with a rousing cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty had died the day following the shooting. Now Aldean is on his Ride All Night Tour in continuing support of his eighth studio album, 2018’s Rearview Town. It’s his fourth consecutive Billboard number one album in the U.S. Kane Brown and Carly Pearce open. 7:30 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (EC, CM)

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 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, one live album, and one “Best of”, 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 this year’s, DNA. The album features songs written by Lauv (Charli XCX), Andy Grammer, Stuart Crichton (DNCE) and Mike Sabbath (J Balvin). 8 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave.,Uptown. (EC, RH)

Tuesday, September 17

Built to Spill return to Mr. Smalls Theatre. The band rose from Boise, Idaho to prominence in the ’90s. The group never had a hit, per se, but albums such as 1997’s Perfect from Now On and 1999’s Keep It Like a Secret are indie-rock cornerstones. In fact, the band members are touring for the 20th anniversary of the latter record, the band’s fourth overall. Their latest release is 2015’s Untethered Moon, their eight album. The band has seen members come and go; the sole core member is singer/guitarist Doug Martsch, who has said that he wanted to change the lineup for every album. Built to Spill also saw its share of tragedy. Former drummer Andy Capps died in 2006. But they’ve pressed on, and last year they toured with the Afghan Whigs, another great indie-rock group from the ’90s. Prism Bitch and And And And open. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Friday, September 20 

The Thrival Music Festival is part of the larger Thrival Festival, where the name of the game is capitalist enterprise. Local startup/innovation incubator Ascender powers the festival, a rich brew of entrepreneurship, empowerment, and culture. This year the one-day Music Festival is free and at Schenley Plaza. If you like beeps, boops, and dancing, Pittsburgh-based EDM artist Buku is your man. His latest release is the 2019 single “To Ya Brain.” Also performing are local funkateers Beauty Slap. They have a few beeps and boops too plus a lot of jazz. And DJs J. Malls and Gordy G. are bringing their popular vinyl funk and soul show Title Town to the plaza. Wicked Pittsburgh, a collective of artists and musicians, will be on scene, and The Porch, owned by Eat ’n Park Hospitality Group, is the featured food and drink provider. 4:30 – 11 p.m. 4100 Forbes Ave., Oakland. (EC, CM)

Friday, September 20 to Sunday, September 22

“Girls to the front!”—a rallying cry for riot grrrl acts like Bikini Kill, the slogan called on men to step aside at punk shows and for women to mosh without fear of battery or sexual assault. That rallying cry is also the title of a song by Brazilian Wax, who will close the second day of Ladyfest, an annual three-day event which began in 2014 and features and empowers Pittsburgh female musicians. Another notable act is Murder for Girls, hot to release a new LP soon after praise for their sophomore LP, 2017’s All the Pretty Stars. Over 20 acts, most local but others from various cities, will play this year’s Ladyfest. The music begins each evening at The Shop in Lawrenceville. There is an additional acoustic brunch 10 a.m. Sunday, September 22 at Hambone’s (also in Lawrenceville). Proceeds benefit the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. 6 p.m. (5:30 p.m. Sunday) 3520 Charlotte St., Lawrenceville. (CM)

Saturday, September 21

Country-pop trio Rascal Flatts are coming to town—well, actually to KeyBank Pavilion, just a little ways out of town—on their Back to Us Tour, and when these boys come to town, they really go to town. The Columbus, Ohio band’s 2014 album, Rewind, topped at No. 1 on the Billboard country charts, featuring hit singles like “Rewind,” “Riot,” and “I Like the Sound of That.” The group is made up of vocalist Gary LeVox, bass and keyboard player Jay DeMarcus, and guitarist Joe Don Rooney. Rascal Flatts’ latest album is 2017’s Back to Us, on which they produced every track on their own, except one, on the deluxe edition. The release enjoyed some very good success, entering the Billboard Top Country Albums chart at No. 2. It became the group’s 12th top-ten album. Jordan Davis and Morgan Evans open. 7:30 p.m. 665 Rt.18, Burgettstown. (EC, RH)

Sunday, September 22

While reviewing the John Van Hamersveld pop art exhibit recently at Greensburg’s The Westmoreland, one of the rock concert posters had Charlie Musselwhite on it. I had heard a little bit about him previously, but wasn’t overly familiar with him. Then I saw that he will be performing at the August Wilson Cultural Center this month and decided to find out more about the musician. Musselwhite is a virtuoso blues harmonica player who rose to prominence in the 1960s. Living in Chicago during the time of the great blues scene there, he became good friends with John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, and even knew Muddy Waters. In the late ‘60s he moved to San Francisco and was part of the city’s exploding music scene. Musselwhite supposedly was the inspiration for the character of Elwood Blues in The Blues Brothers film. He is a member of the Blues Hall of Fame. Ben Harper and Musselwhite recorded an album together in 2013 titled, Get Up! One of the tracks is “I’m In I’m Out And I’m Gone.” 8 p.m. 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (RH)

Friday, September 27

Toby Keith, one of the biggest superstars in country music visits Highmark Stadium on his That’s Country Bro tour. Musically, Keith is known for his traditional twangy country-style, featuring lyrics about cowboys, horses, beer, patriotism, and other all-American topics, and for his prolific discography spanning more than 20 years: over 18 studio albums, numerous compilations, two Christmas albums, and nearly two dozen number one singles. He’s also known for the raucous party scenes associated with his visits to Pittsburgh. He’s sure to play his big hit “Red Solo Cup” (ie: the color and brand of cup used at many parties, tailgates, and keggers). As is often the case with musicians who have cult-like followings, there’s probably a sizable crowd already planning to attend this concert. So if you’re going, grab your cowboy hat and boots, plaid shirt, and Daisy Dukes (for those so inclined), and saddle up. Clay Walker and Pittsburgh’s own Gabby Barrett open. 7 p.m. 510 W. Station Square Dr., Station Square. (RH)

Sunday, September 29

Thom Yorke was in town last year with Radiohead at PPG Paints Arena, and he returns this year to Stage AE, but don’t expect any Radiohead songs. Rather, Yorke, the band’s frontman, is touring in support of Anima, his third solo album. (You might have seen the promotional short film, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, in your Netflix queue.) Yorke’s other solo work includes 2006’s The Eraser and 2014’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. He also formed the supergroup Atoms for Peace in 2009 to perform songs from The Eraser. Members include bassist Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nigel Godrich, who has produced all of Yorke’s solo work. Godrich additionally produced Radiohead’s albums from 1997’s OK Computer to 2016’s A Moon Shaped Pool. Yorke’s movie credits include composing the soundtrack to the 2018 horror film Suspiria, and the song “Daily Battles” for Edward Norton’s upcoming Motherless Brooklyn. This event is sold out so check your alternate ticket sources. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Other Suggested Shows

Sunday, September 1

The Annual Allegheny County Music Festival promises a balanced survey of local music. Headlining is Uprooted, with Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root and “Send Me on My Way” fame (8 p.m.). Openers include Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors, Jenn Wertz, and Bill Deasy. This is the last concert at Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater this year, so be sure to get in as much outdoor dancing as you can before autumn arrives. Music begins at 5 p.m. There is a $20 per car requested donation, which benefits children and youth served by the County’s Department of Human Services through the Allegheny County Music Festival Fund. 5 p.m. 4070 Middle Rd., Allison Park. (RH, CM)

Friday, September 6

Singer/guitar slinger Jonny Lang brings his scorching riffs and bluesy vocals to Greensburg’s Palace Theatre. Lang started playing guitar at the age of 12, mainly jamming on the porch of a friend’s family lake house in his native North Dakota. He joined the blues band of his guitar teacher, and the group was subsequently renamed Kid Jonny Lang & The Big Bang. His biggest hits are “Lie to Me,” “Longtime Coming,” and “Wander This World.” After turning his life around from substance abuse through religion, he even recorded a hit song of faith, “Turnaround.” He was also one of the musicians in the Jimi Hendrix tribute band called the Experience Hendrix Tour. Lang has also toured with The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, B.B. King, and Buddy Guy. His most recent album is Signs, released in 2017. 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St. (RH)

Saturday, September 7

Andre Costello and the Cool Minors have been playing local dates, Pittsburgh festivals, and touring over the last several years. They are a rising band in the area. Their sound is rooted in crunchy guitar riffs, melodic keyboards, intricate drumming, melodic vocals with a touch of reverb, and some occasional ‘60s psychedelia. The group’s latest LP release is Resident Frequencies, which contains the track “Kinda (Makes You Feel Good).” 7 p.m. Thunderbird Cafe & Music Hall, 4053 Butler St., Lawrenceville. (RH)

Tuesday, September 10

Trombone Shorty, a native of New Orleans, shot higher on the national scene in 2013 with his hot brass rocker “Fire and Brimstone.”  He draws on his New Orleans jazz heritage to create hooky music and genre-fusing songs. Shorty plays not only trombone and trumpet but also drums, organ, and tuba. He will again be performing with his group Orleans Avenue at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. 2017’s Parking Lot Symphony is his latest album. Devon Gilfillian opens. 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. (RH, CM)

Saturday, September 14

 Bill Toms and Hard Rain with the Soulville Horns will be rockin’ out Moondog’s this evening. Toms’ slightly raspy, deeply soulful voice and his guitar playing prowess combine with the drums, horns, and the rest of the band to create a hot rock sound. Their latest release is Live, a concert recording from last year at Club Cafe. Special guest is Aris Paul.8 p.m. Moondog’s, 578 Freeport Rd., Blawnox. (RH)

Sunday, September 15

Frankie Avalon was already an accomplished young singer before his career path had him in some of the top beach/surfing films of the 1960’s. Before starring in Beach Blanket Bingo, Avalon had two number one hit records with Venus and “Why.” Avalon is joined on the tour by the legendary Pittsburgh-born Lou Christie and his fantastic falsetto voice. His talent is evident on songs like “Lightnin’ Strikes” and “Two Faces Have I.” See them both at The Palace Theatre. 6 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Drive-By Truckers are pulling the rig off the road for a show at Mr. Smalls Theatre. A stirring combination of guitars, vocals, and drums gives their music a soulful, rocking, country sound, such as on “Surrender Under Protest.” Their latest album is 2016’s American Band. The group is from Athens, Georgia, and singer-songwriter Jason Isbell was a former member. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (RH, CM)

Saturday, September 21

Stone Temple Pilots and Rival Sons will co-headline Stage AE. Stone Temple Pilots rose during the ’90s with songs like “Big Bang Baby” that straddled alternative rock and metal. Longtime frontman Scott Weiland died in 2015 of an accidental overdose, and Jeff Gutt is their current lead singer. The band’s second self-titled album was released in 2018. Rival Sons formed in 2009 in Long Beach, California and are known for 2011’s Pressure & Time and the single of the same name. Their latest album is this year’s Feral Roots. Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown open. Doors open 5:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

 “Cruel To Be Kind” is musician and producer Nick Lowe‘s biggest hit and was a staple of the early MTV years. He is bringing his Quality Rock and Roll Review to Mr. Smalls Theatre. And a quality rock and roll review it will be with the masked instrumental rockers, Los Straitjackets and singer/songwriter Ester Rose. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (RH)

Tuesday, September 24

Chris Brown is no stranger to controversy, but he continues to pack venues such as PPG Paints Arena. 2005’s “Run It!” was his first single and hit. His latest album is this year’s Indigo. Tory Lanez, Ty Dolla $ign, Joyner Lucas, and Yella Beezy open. 6:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (CM)

Tyler, the Creator will perform at Stage AE. He is a member, if not the leader of, the hip hop collective Odd Future. He designs the group’s artwork and has created much of their merchandise. His solo albums, such as 2019’s Igor, oft receive critical acclaim even if his lyrics are sometimes criticized. He performed “911” on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Opening is rapper Jaden Smith, son of Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith. GoldLink also opens. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

If you’ve heard Horace Silver’s immortal bossa nova standard, “Song for My Father,” then you’ve heard Roger Humphries. The brilliant percussionist has played virtually every major venue in the United States with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Ray Charles to Pittsburgh natives Nathan Davis and Pete Henderson. An accomplished solo artist in his own right and the leader of RH Factor and Roger Humphries’ Big Band, Humphries has also left a lasting legacy in Pittsburgh as an educator, having taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, and elsewhere. Catch the legendary drummer with his band RH Factor during a free public performance at the Agnes Katz Plaza at Penn Avenue and 7th Street. 5 p.m. Cultural District (EC, RH)

On the Radar

Friday, October 2
Phil Collins (PPG Paints Arena)

Saturday, October 3
Rick Wakeman (The Palace)

Friday, October 4
Charlie Daniels Band (Jergel’s)
Sheila E. (The Meadows)
Red Elvises (Hard Rock Cafe)

Saturday, October 5
Brain McKnight (The Meadows)
Justin Fabus (Hard Rock Cafe)

Sunday, October 6
Chance the Rapper (PPG Paints Arena)
Four Chord Music Festival feat. the Offspring (Highmark Stadium)

Monday, October 7
The Black Keys (PPG Paints Arena)
Mike Watt and the Missingmen (Spirit)

Tuesday, October 8
Avril Lavigne (Roxian Theatre)

Wednesday, October 9
Jimmie Vaughn (Jergel’s)
Hugh Jackman (PPG Paints Arena)
Zedd (Stage AE)
Art Alexakis of Everclear (Hard Rock Cafe)

Thursday, October 10
George Thorogood & The Destroyers (The Palace)
Less Than Jake and Bowling for Soup (Mr. Smalls Theatre)

Friday, October 11
The Chainsmokers (PPG Paints Arena)
The Commodores (The Meadows)

Saturday, October 12
Carrie Underwood (PPG Paints Arena)
Dark Star Orchestra (Stage AE)

Monday, October 14
The Head and the Heart (UPMC Events Center)

Wednesday, October 16
Little Feat (The Palace)

Thursday, October 17
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band (PPG Paints Arena)
Mary Chapin Carpenter & Shawn Colvin (The Byham)
Mudhoney w/ special guest Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds (Mr. Smalls Theatre)
Hoodie Allen (Foxtail)

Friday, October 18
Matt and Kim (Stage AE)
Three Dog Night (The Meadows)

Saturday, October 19
Billy Ocean (The Meadows)
Donnie Iris and The Cruisers (Jergel’s)
The Clarks (The Palace)

Sunday, October 20
Slaughter (Jergel’s)
Daughtry (The Palace)
Natasha Bedingfield (Carnegie of Homestead)

Wednesday, October 23
Taylor Hicks (Jergel’s)

Thursday, October 24
Kip Moore (The Palace)

Friday, October 25
Coco Montoya (The Thunderbird)
Andy Grammer (The Roxian)

Saturday, October 26
Sleater-Kinney (Stage AE)

Sunday, October 27
The Glenn Miller Orchestra (The Palace)

Wednesday, October 30
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Byham)

Thursday, October 31
Vixen (Jergel’s)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.