400 North Shore Drive, North Side
412-229-5483 or www.stageae.com
Stage AE is, quite literally, a venue for all seasons. In the warmer months, big tours, like Death Cab for Cutie and Mac Miller, take to the outdoor stage, but there are plenty of indoor shows of all sizes throughout the year. And, it's a venue conveniently located in the heart of town.
2nd: Altar Bar, Strip District
3rd: Mr. Small's Theatre, Millvale
1300 Bingham St., South Side
In its converted historic church, City focuses exclusively on new plays by established and up-and-coming playwrights like Daniel Beaty, Jessica Dickey and John Patrick Shanley. The company consistently presents polished productions — including the occasional world premiere — and its actors and directors include both local and visiting talent.
2nd: Bricolage Productions, Downtown
3rd: Pittsburgh Public Theater, Downtown
Most Wanted Fine Art
5015 Penn Ave., Garfield
Jason and Nina Sauer's independent gallery helps anchor the Penn Avenue arts corridor with its DIY vibe and bustling but mellow atmosphere. This "community-service organization disguised as an art gallery" tackles everything from trans-racial adoption and creepy doll art to Jason Sauer's enthusiasm for demolition derby.
2nd: SPACE, Downtown
3rd: Revision Space, Lawrenceville
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
2900 Liberty Ave., Strip District
Founded in 1969, this acclaimed company features nearly 30 dancers from around the U.S. and beyond. Known for its mainstay Nutcracker at the Benedum each December, the company has recently begun upping its game and raising its profile nationally. Its new season begins this month with a mixed-repertory show featuring works by Balanchine, Jiří Kylián and William Forsythe.
2nd: Attack Theatre
3rd: Texture Contemporary Ballet
Morose & Macabre's Atrocity Exhibition
Not your average stage production, this "360 degree living art installation" is for those with a taste for vintage spookiness. The event, which has happened every spring since 2009, features a cabaret of fetish, sideshow and other unusual acts (think: burlesque, "pain-proof" performers, etc.) from around the country, as well as artisans offering a range of darkly themed wares.
2nd: My Fair Lady, Pittsburgh Public Theater
3rd: Saints Tour, Bricolage Production Company and Real/Time Interventions
"When people look at my art, I want them to see me," writes Batch on his website. And Pittsburgh is quickly forgetting Batch's past as a Pittsburgh Steeler and recognizing him for his vibrantly colored paintings (elephants are a favorite subject), which are increasingly visible around town at exhibits and live-painting events.
2nd: Vanessa German
3rd: Terry Boyd
The local incarnation of the popular public-radio storytelling program includes the monthly local StorySlam, at the Rex Theater, and the big annual GrandSlam, at the Byham Theater. But the highest-profile event is the annual Moth Mainstage, which offers celebrity hosts and nationally touring 'tellers and consistently sells out the Byham.
2nd: Free Monster Poems About Monsters, Garfield
3rd: Carnegie Library Summer Reading Kickoff
Bill Crawford has been lighting up the airwaves at WDVE since 2012, where he still hosts the morning show with Randy Baumann. Starting out doing standup at the Pittsburgh Improv, Crawford has joked his way onto TBS and toured clubs across the country. Family life as a father of two young girls propels his act with a healthy dose of sarcasm.
2nd: Jim Krenn
Jill West & Blues Attack
The Blues Attack consists of blues-scene stalwarts Gregg Krupa (guitar), Sudden Steve Binsberger (keys), Nick Crano (drums) and Hank Raffetto (bass). But this longtime area favorite, seen at gigs from local bars to the Gateway Clipper, is best known for the booming voice of Jill West, who delivers on both original material and classics like "Damn Your Eyes" and "Big Boss Man."
2nd: Billy Price Band
3rd: Phat Man Dee
Bastard Bearded Irishmen
This band has been a hit with Pittsburghers since bursting onto the city's music scene in 2008. A regular on our Best Of Pittsburgh list, the band has opened for national acts like the Dropkick Murphys and even gained a sponsorship from Jameson Irish Whiskey.
2nd: The SpacePimps
3rd: Nevada Color
Who would have thought that a band that claims to have battled dragons would find its greatest victory on the pages of City Paper, where it's captured its fourth award (third in a row) for top metal band. Add to that a new album, Destroyers of the Realm, this past January and it's been a pretty good year.
3rd: Fist Fight in the Parking Lot
With songs about working-class struggles, whiskey and dysfunctional relationships, this folk band hailing from Butler seems to hit all the right chords with Pittsburghers. With its latest album, Nevertheless, The Armadillos continue to win this category, and keep us dancing along to the rhythm of a stand-up bass and the twang of a mandolin.
2nd: The Hills and the Rivers
3rd: Christian Beck Band
It's been a busy year for Jasiri X. Known as much for his activism as his politically conscious rhymes, the rapper works with local youth through 1Hood Media and travels to rallies and speaking engagements around the country. Earlier this year, he was awarded a prestigious fellowship from NYC-based Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, to help support his many projects.
Jerome Bettis' Grille 36
393 North Shore Drive, North Side
412-224-6287 or www.jeromebettisgrille36.com
Why is this spot, located next to Heinz Field, the city's Best Sports Bar? Sure, it's got great food and big-screen TVs, along with 36 beers on tap, 36 different bottles of wine and 36 different martinis. But there's also its namesake, Jerome Bettis, No. 36 himself, who is known to pop in and hang out from time to time.
2nd: Bigham Tavern, Mount Washington
3rd: McFadden's, North Side