Critics' Picks: July 30 - August 6 

A hip-hop festival featuring Talib Kweli, an "All-Scene" festival at Mr. Small's, Thoth Trio plays the Solar Concert Series and The Sablowskis release a kid-friendly punk album

click to enlarge Cultured Steel Hip Hop Festival, Talib Kweli and Rapsody


Don't call it a comeback. It is, after all, only the first year for the two-day Cultured Steel Hip Hop Festival, presented by 1Hood and R.A.R.E. Nation. Day one kicks things off with the opening of 40 Years of Hip-hop Arts & Culture, an exhibit of classic hip-hop photos and original art by artists and photographers, and a screening of producer 9th Wonder's documentary The Hip Hop Fellow. Day two features performances by Talib Kweli and Rapsody, with support from notable locals Jasiri X, Palermo Stone and Kellee Maize. Two-day passes are $20. Zach Brendza 6 p.m. Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., Friendship. $10. Continues: 6 p.m. Fri., Aug. 1. Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $15. All ages. 412-363-3000 or www.rarenation.com


Chalk this one up to the "hope this thing works" category: The "All Scene" Entertainment Festival is about to go where no fest has gone before — or, at least, achieve what no fest has achieved before. Throughout the afternoon and evening, Mr. Small's Theatre and its facilities will host multiple stages of music, stand-up comedy, a curated art gallery, short films and more. Musical performers include LocaL, Fun Home and Sikes; comedians include Davon Magwood, Alex Stypula and Jeff Konkle. Cross your fingers and expect a good time. ZB 3 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $8-10. All ages. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com


In its seventh year, the Solar Concert Series is back in action, using the sun's rays to rock out. Every Wednesday through Aug. 27, the series hosts an acoustic lunchtime set from a local artist at Buhl Community Park (in front of the Children's Museum), with live sound powered by a solar-energy system. It's like musical photosynthesis, sort of. Jazz group Thoth Trio gets green with it today, performing original and obscure instrumental pieces. Catch part of the 45-minute set while on your authorized — or unauthorized — lunch break. ZB Noon. 10 Children's Way, North Side. Free. All ages. 412-322-5058 or www.solarconcertseries.org

click to enlarge The Sablowskis, at Hambones


If you're familiar with The Sablowskis, you might think of the street-punk band as dealing with at least somewhat grown-up themes: drinking, eating pierogies. But the four-piece is showing some versatility this weekend, releasing a six-song "children's punk rock" EP. "All My Friends Are Grounded" is cheeky at times (one song deals with a boy at school who vomits a lot), and potato-based treats are still on the menu (in the form of "Tots" this time), but it's all family-friendly stuff. There's even an assist from the band members' own kids on one track. Tonight, they release the album with an all-ages show at Hambone's. Photo Joe and the Negatives open. Andy Mulkerin 6 p.m. 4207 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Free. All ages. 412-681-4318 or www.hambonespittsburgh.com



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