September Concert Guide 2021: Chris Stapleton, Dawes, Chaka Khan, Dan + Shay, Phoebe Bridgers

Dan + Shay performing at the New Daisy Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2017 (photo: Jana Beamer)

Dan + Shay performing at the New Daisy Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2017. (photo: Jana Beamer)

This month is one of the biggest concert months we’ve seen in quite awhile, and probably will be until we reach spring. The delta variant of covid has raised it’s ugly molecular structure, but artists and venues are fighting back with proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for people to enter. And there are many reasons to want to enter concert venues this month with a wide variety of acts.  Big concerts this month are Dan + Shay, Chris Stapleton, Lady A, Korn, Dawes, Code Orange, Phoebe Bridgers, and the Allman Betts Band. Looking for some classic rock and blues? Then check out the Lindsey Buckingham, Tommy James and the Shondells, and Shemeika Copeland.

For funk and R&B September offers a very nice selection of performers—Kool & The Gang, Chaka Khan, and Patrice Rushen. For alt and pop music lovers, Kesha, St. Vincent, Bleachers, Fogging Molly, and The Violent Femmes are all in town. Several great hometown music showcases are also on tap this month with The Heinz Field Kickoff and Rib Festival with The Clarks and Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors; Yinz Citizen Virtual Concert including Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, Bill Toms and Hard Rain, and Jordan Montgomery/Driving While Black Records; and Barrel & Flow Fest including INEZ with the Homewood Sound Machine, Feralcat and the Wild, Benji, and Chandra Rhyme.

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. Mike Vargo (M.V.) contributed too.

In the EC Spotlight

Friday, September 3

Korn a seminal nu metal band that formed in Bakersfield, California, in 1993 has had 12 releases in the top ten of the Billboard 200. The group has been nominated for 8 Grammy Awards, winning 2. Korn’s latest album release is 2019’s The Nothing. The album debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 chart, Korn’s 14th top ten album. It contained the popular single, “You’ll Never Find Me.” Opening for Korn at the Pavilion at Star Lake is Staind. The group’s songs have included the topics of depression, addiction, relationships, death, finding one’s true self, betrayal, and Staind’s lead vocalist Aaron Lewis’ thoughts and feelings  about becoming a father. The band has had several hiatuses, but has produced 7 studio albums. Opening is Fire from the Gods. 6:30 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.) 

The Clarks continue to build on their foundation of playing solid working-class rock. The group gained a strong local following in the early ’90s gigging at clubs like Graffiti (remember Graffiti?), and has remained together and active long after nearly every other band on the scene during that era called it quits. After over 35 years, 11 albums, countless gigs and zero line-up changes, The Clarks have gone from being a regional favorite to a local institution. And the band members, who formed The Clarks at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, have never forgotten their home turf. Their most recent album  is 2018’s, Madly in Love at the End of The World, released on the Clarkhouse Entertainment label. Two mostly annual concerts for The Clarks are the Fayette County Fair (mentioned in their song “Cigarette”) and the Heinz Field Kickoff and Rib Festival or a show at Stage AE. Their appearance this month at the rib fest is with special guest Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors. The group has had a very busy summer, playing many special events around town and the region. This double bill should be a very popular one. Free. 7:30 p.m. 100 Art Rooney Ave., North Shore. (R.H.)

Saturday, September 4

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. “Celebration” was added to the Library of Congress National Recording registry in 2020.  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 event center. The group has a new album out this year, Perfect Union. Unfortunately, Kool & The Gang has lost two of its original members in the past two years—Ronald Bell and Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, but the show must go on and it will, at Rivers. 7 p.m. Sold out. 777 Casino Dr., North Shore. (R.H.)

Sunday, September 5

Country music trio Lady A (formerly Lady Antebellum) plays an outdoor show at Stage AE during the Heinz Field Kickoff and Rib Festival. Composed of vocalist Hillary Scott, guitarist/vocalist Charles Kelley, and instrumentalist Dave Haywood, the trio have proven their staying power as country music stars, having won 7 Grammy Awards and numerous country music awards of various sorts. They are probably best known for their 2009 single “Need You Now,” a poignant duet that braids the vocal talents of Scott and Kelley into a single melancholy harmony. The band formed in Nashville in 2006 and rose extraordinarily quickly, now standing among some of country music’s top contemporary talent. Since then Lady A has continued to grow its fan base with appearances in arenas and major amphitheaters across the United States. The group is touring in advance of its eighth studio album, What a Song Can Do, which drops October 22. Special guest is Carly Pearce. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (R.H.)l

Tuesday, Sep 7, 2021

Lindsey Buckingham was a guitarist, singer, and songwriter for Fleetwood Mac from 1975 until 2018 when they wanted to go on tour and he did not. Too bad, but Buckingham is a top musician in his own right. With a distinctive lead guitar playing style (he picks the strings with his fingers and fingernails, eschewing a guitar pick) and good singing voice he will continue along for now with his solo career. As a solo artist Buckingham has released six studio albums and three live albums. Buckingham’s latest album, Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie, is a collaboration with his bandmate at the time, Christine McVie. The material was going to be included in a new Fleetwood Mac album, but with many delays they decided to release it as their own project in 2017. Buckingham will be releasing his latest album, Lindsey Buckingham on September 17. 8 p.m. Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, 510 E. 10th St., Munhall. (R.H.)

Wednesday, September 8

Singer-songwriter and noted guitarist St. Vincent, born Annie Erin Clark in Tulsa, Oklahoma, returns to Stage AE. She is a former member of the indie ensemble The Polyphonic Spree and she released her debut solo album, Marry Me, in 2007. Her music has an evocative pop sound, as heard on singles such as 2011’s “Cruel” and 2014’s “Digital Witness.” St. Vincent collaborated with Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne in 2012 on the album Love This Giant. Her music production credits include work with rock band Sleater-Kinney. Both St. Vincent and Carrie Brownstein, of Sleater-Kinney and the television series “Portlandia,” co-wrote the screenplay for The Nowhere Inn. The movie also stars them both, and it will be released September 17, 2021. St. Vincent’s latest album is 2021’s Daddy’s Home. Special guest is Ali Mackofsky. Doors open at 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (R.H., C.M.)

St. Vincent performing at The Hollywood Palladium in 2018. (photo: Justin Higuchi)

St. Vincent performing at The Hollywood Palladium in 2018. (photo: Justin Higuchi)

Thursday, September 9

Grammy-nominated pop-singer Kesha will headline Stage AE. “Tik Tok,” her debut solo single, was also her first number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It appeared on her debut album, 2010’s Animal. Kesha’s latest album was 2020’s High Road. Since 2014, she’s been in an ongoing legal dispute with Dr. Luke, her former producer. During this time, many other musicians, ranging from Adele to Lady Gaga, publicly supported Kesha. She performed at an outdoor concert in downtown Pittsburgh in 2018. It was originally scheduled as a get-out-the-vote event through the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, but it was renamed Stronger Than Hate after the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue. The proceeds went to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Our Victims of Terror Fund. Betty Who opens. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (R.H., C.M.)

Harlem-born blues singer Shemekia Copeland gained a lot of notice with “Never Going Back to Memphis,” which featured her resonant blues/soul vocals, storytelling lyrics, and fantastic guitar and drums. Copeland—the daughter of Texas blues guitarist and singer Johnny Copeland—started out singing professionally as her dad’s opening act while still in high school. A two-time Grammy nominee, she’s performed with such notables as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Mick Jagger, and Eric Clapton. Copeland has also performed for President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House. She was a headliner here in June for the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Regatta and returns once again this year for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Lights On! Celebrations at Allegheny Overlook Park. Free, 9 p.m. Ft. Duquesne Blvd. (R.H.)

Saturday, September 11

The Barrel & Flow Fest (Formerly Fresh Fest) has expanded it’s offerings and will be happening at Southside Works from Friday, September 10 through Sunday, September 12. Saturday the 11th is the main entertainment day with a plethora of Pittsburgh’s top hip-hop, soul/R&B, and DJ entertainers performing on several stages. Among those appearing are: INEZ w/The Homewood Sound Machine, Feralcat and the Wild, Benji, Chandra Rhyme, and Cam Chambers. Those DJing some phat flow include DJ Inception and Arie Cole. Headlining the fest is fresh funk from the national group Ghost-Note. Noon to 10:30 p.m. (R.H.)

Tuesday, September 14

Bleachers will perform at Stage AE. The band is the project of Jack Antonoff, who has quite the resume for someone still a few years shy of 40. He is a member and multi-instrumentalist in the rock group fun., who are arguably best known for the song “We Are Young.” Fun. has been on hiatus since 2015, and since then, Bleachers have released two albums, the most recent of which is 2021’s Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night. The single “Chinatown” features an up-and-coming musician from New Jersey—Bruce Springsteen. Antonoff is also a noted producer, and his credits include production on albums by Lorde, Taylor Swift, and numerous others. He produced the soundtrack to the 2018 movie Love, Simon. The soundtrack features four Bleachers tracks as well. Claud opens. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M.)

Wednesday, September 15

Flogging Molly and The Violent Femmes co-headline Stage AE. Limerick-born Dave King fronts Flogging Molly, a Celtic-punk band which formed in Los Angeles in 1997. A standout release includes 2008’s Float and its accompanying title track, a song about persistence. Their latest album is 2017’s Life Is Good. The Violent Femmes are a folk-punk trio from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their 1983 self-titled debut album, which includes “Blister in the Sun,” “Add It Up,” and “Gone Daddy Gone,” is a classic. Original drummer Victor DeLorenzo quit in 2013, but John Sparrow, who played in the group’s backing band, the Horns of Dilemma, picked up the sticks. Their latest album is 2019’s Hotel Last Resort. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and THICK open. Doors open 5:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M.)

Thursday, September 16

One City Together at Home is the concept behind 412 Food Rescue’s Yinz Citizen Virtual Concert. The event celebrates neighbors being there for neighbors. It was so successful last year that they are continuing it again this year. It will feature Pittsburgh musicians, artists, and other local talent, and recognize all those special “yinzers” that make the ‘Burgh a very cool place. Scheduled to perform are Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers, Derek Woods Band, Josh Jams, Bill Toms Band, Musicians of PSO, Brandon Lehman/Swiss Army, Jordan Montgomery/Driving While Black Records, Leigh Solomon Pugliano, Evan Thorston, Paging Doctor Moon, The Garment District, Elias Khouri, Back Alley Sound, Shelf Life String Band, and a Rock, Reggae, Relief Performance.

Also appearances by Wiz Khalifa, Baron Batch, Natalie Bencivenga, Jamilka Borges, T.J. Harris, Larry Richert, Randy Baumann, and more. 412 Food Rescue does so much good in the region with saving still-good food from being thrown away and giving it to neighbors in need. The event is free with registration and donations to 412 Food Rescue are highly encouraged. Another way to help is through ordering a Moe’s Southwest Grill Taco Kit Pop-Up Fundraiser. 8 p.m. (R.H.)

Friday, September 17

Dan Smeyers grew up in Wexford, Pennsylvania, and graduated from North Allegheny High School. He attended CMU before embarking on his professional musical career. He played in several  bands, one of which was even on the Vans Warped Tour, before meeting Shay Moooney, a native of Natural Dam, Arkansas, in Nashville. The two of them clicked and started writing country songs soon thereafter. After some early success they started performing together as Dan + Shay. Now they have four albums and numerous awards including three Grammys and four ACM Awards. Dan + Shay’s latest album is Good Things, released in August. Special guests are The Band CAMINO and Ingrid Andress. 7 p.m. PPG Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (R.H.)

Phoebe Bridgers’s sophomore album, Punisher, was one of the most acclaimed albums of 2020, and now she’s finally able to tour in support of it, including a stop at Stage AE. Songs from the album pair incisive lyrics with lush instrumentation. Standout singles include “Kyoto” and “I Know the End,” both of which she performed, in that order, on “Saturday Night Live” in 2021. The latter performance saw her smashing her guitar in true rock-n-roll fashion. She’s also a member of the supergroup boygenius with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus. Bridgers has collaborated with numerous other musicians as well. One recent collaboration is on The Killers’ 2021 single, “Runaway Horses.” Her solo work earned her four Grammy nominations this year. She is based in Los Angeles. MUNA opens. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M.)

Friday, September  17 – Sunday, September 19

The world famous New Orleans Jazz Festival is cancelled for 2021, but the also noted Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival is still on with covid protocols in place. This year’s mix of jazz and R&B includes top notch performers Chaka Khan and Patrice Rushen. Khan (Fri., Benedum Center) has had many top hits over the years including “I Feel for You” as a solo artist and “Ain’t Nobody” and “Tell Me Something Good” as part of the group Rufus. Rushen’s mega-hits are “You Remind Me” and “Forget Me Nots,” the latter of which includes one of the best funky bass lines ever. The hook was so good that Will Smith used it in the music bed for his song “Men in Black.” Rushen performs Sunday at Highmark Stadium. Both performers have amazing voices. 

The festival’s other performers hold their own too with Marcus Miller, Branford Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Gregory Porter, Kenny Garrett, Jazzmeia Horn, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and Eddi Palmeri Afro-Caribbean Jazz Septet are scheduled to play over Saturday and Sunday. The Pittsburgh International Jazz festival is a production of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center and presented by Citizens Bank. (R.H.)

Sunday, September 19

Pop-rock blasters Tommy James and the Shondells got their start in Niles, Michigan, but their big breaks came right here in the Pittsburgh area. Unknown to James, his group’s early and near-forgotten cover of “Hanky Panky” became a hit at local dance clubs in 1965—and from there, long story short, it was onward to stardom with late-’60s singles such as “Mony Mony,” “Crimson and Clover,” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” James and the Shondells have kept on rocking through personnel changes and changing times. 8 p.m. The Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (M.V.)

Thursday, September 23

Dawes drew a large crowd for their 2017 concert at the Three Rivers Arts Festival (see our review). 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.)

Friday, September 24

Chris Stapleton has achieved much at this point in his career. His work as a performer, composer, and producer has produced five Grammy Awards, nine Academy of Country Music Awards, ten Country Music Association Awards, and five Billboard Music Awards. He has co-written with top artists such as Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Luke Bryan, Sheryl Crow, and even Peter Frampton. Stapleton went solo with his debut studio album titled Traveller in 2015. The release reached No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart and went triple platinum. His second studio album, From A Room: Volume 1, was also highly successful, garnering Stapleton the CMA Award for Album of the Year and a Grammy Award for Best Country Album. He met his wife Morgane, also a highly successful songwriter, when they worked at adjacent publishing houses in Nashville, Tennessee. She performs with Chris, singing background, harmony, and duet vocals in his band. Stapleton’s latest album is 2020’s Starting Over. He brings his All-American Road Show to the Pavilion at Star Lake. Margo Price and Kendell Marvel open. 7 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Chris Stapleton performing on "Austin City Limits" in 2016. (photo: missmojorising and Wikipedia)

Chris Stapleton performing on “Austin City Limits” in 2016. (photo: missmojorising and Wikipedia)

Code Orange return to their hometown of Pittsburgh with a headlining show at The Roxian Theatre. The Grammy voters twice nominated the band’s music for Best Metal Performance. The first time was for “Forever” in 2018. The song showcases alternating tempos, Reba Meyers’s backing vocals, and Jami Morgan’s growl. The second time was for “Underneath” in 2021. That tune has a more industrial sound, similar to Nine Inch Nails, and it appears on their 2020 album of the same name. Because of COVID-19, Code Orange live-streamed a concert at an empty Roxian Theatre on March 14, 2020, the day after Underneath dropped. The group formed in 2008 as Code Orange Kids and released their debut album, Love Is Love/Return to Dust, in 2012. They dropped “Kids” from their name in 2014. 5 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (C.M.)

Sunday, September 26

Some ingredients go very well together, like ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Another tasty combination is the Allman Betts Band. The group consists of sons of some of the players in the former Allman Brothers Band. This includes Devon Allman, Duane Betts, and Berry Oakley Jr. (son of original Allman Brothers Band bassist Berry Oakley). Other members are: Johnny Stachela (slide guitar) and Devon Allman Project percussionists R. Scott Bryan (Sheryl Crow), and John Lum. Devon Allman is the son of the late Gregg Allman and Shelly Jefts, while Duane is the son of  longtime Allman Brothers’ lead guitarist Dickey Betts and Paulette Howell. Duane was named after Allman Brothers’ band co-founder Duane Allman, who was a lead guitar virtuoso. The latest Allman Betts Band album is Bless Your Heart, which was released in 2020. Some Allman Brothers Band songs are sure to surface on the concert’s set list. Special guests are Marc Ford and River Kittens   8 p.m. Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, 510 East 10th Ave., Munhall. (R.H.)

Other Shows of Interest

Wednesday, September 1
Glass Animals (Stage AE)

Friday, September 3
Toronzo Cannon (St. Clair Park, Greensburg)

Saturday, September 4
Reggae at Riverview (Park)

Sunday, September 5
Waxahatchee (Mr. Smalls)
Allegheny County Music Festival (Hartwood)

Monday, September 6
Billy Price & Norm Nardini (Heinz Field Rib Fest)

Tuesday, September 7
Sad Summer Fest (Stage AE)

Thursday, September 9
Brownie Mary (Club Cafe)

Friday, September 10
Dinosaur Jr. (Mr. Smalls)

Saturday, September 11
Kim Wilson Blues All-Stars (Club Cafe)

Sunday, September 12
The Struts (Stage AE)

Tuesday, September 14
Ani DiFranco (Palace Theatre)

Thursday, September 16
Squeeze (Palace Theatre)

Friday, September 17
Morris Day & The Time (The Meadows)
Amy Grant (Palace Theatre)
Four Chord Music Festival (Wild Things Park)

Saturday, September 18
The Guess Who (Palace Theatre)
The Delaneys (Jam on Walnut)

Sunday, September 19
Gwar (Mr. Smalls)

Monday, September 20
Justin Heyward (Carnegie of Homestead)
Toad the Wet Sprocket (Jergel’s)

Tuesday, September 21
Bob Mould (Mr. Smalls)
James McMurtry (Club Cafe)
Bella Fleck (Carnegie of Homestead)
Black Joe Lewis (Jergel’s)
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (Roxian Theatre)

Friday, September 24
Dance Gavin Dance (Stage AE)
The Yellow Jackets (MCG Jazz)

Saturday, September 25
Alabama (PPG Paints Arena)
Bill Toms and Hard Rain Album Release (Club Cafe)

Sunday, September 26
The Mavericks (Byham Theater)
Bowling for Soup (Jergel’s)
Kim Richey (Club Cafe)

Monday, September 27
Sublime w/Rome (Stage AE)
Heartless Bastards (Mr. Smalls)

Wednesday, September 29
Lou Christie & Gary Lewis and The Playboys (Palace Theatre)
Trey Anastasi0 Band (Stage AE)

Thursday, September 30
Dr. Dog (Roxian Theatre)
Tropidelic (Mr. Smalls)

Several Big Concerts On the Horizon

Friday, October 1
Mavis Staples (August Wilson Cultural Center)
Zac Brown Band (Star Lake)

Sunday, October 3
Blackberry Smoke (Palace Theatre)

Friday, October 1 – Sunday, October 3
Flood City Music Festival (Johnstown)

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.

Monday, October 4
The Rolling Stones (Heinz Field)

Wednesday, October 6
Jonas Brothers (Star Lake)
The Killers (Petersen Events Center)

Friday, October 8
Eric Church (PPG Paints Arena)

Monday, October 11
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real (Roxian Theatre)

Tuesday, October 12
Jill Sobule (Club Cafe)
Robert fFnley (Crafthouse)

Wednesday, October 13
Black Pumas (Mr. Smalls Theatre)

Thursday, October 14
Harry Styles (PPG Paints Arena)
Richard Marx (Carnegie of Homestead)
Jimmy Vaughn (Jergel’s)

Friday, October 15
Drive-By Truckers (Mr. Smalls Theatre)

Saturday, October 16
Dierks Bentley (Star Lake)
Women Who Rock Benefit Concert (Stage AE)

Tuesday, October 19
Brian Wilson (The Palace Theatre)

Thursday, October 28
Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass (Byham Theater)

Saturday, October 30
Machine Gun Kelly (Petersen Events Center)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.