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Short List: Week of April 21 - 28 

click to enlarge PHOTO: STEPHEN PICKOVER
  • Photo: Stephen Pickover

Thu., April 21 -- Words

Like many Pittsburgh natives, Matthew Gallaway fled to a bigger city. However, the young novelist returns momentarily to help launch Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures' new series, Writers LIVE. Gallaway, an NYU law graduate and sometime indie rocker, comes to the Carnegie Library's main branch to chat and sign copies of his debut novel, 2010's The Metropolis Case (Crown Publishers). It's a rich, character-driven story with a 150-year scope that juggles four folks -- two from Pittsburgh -- who are all connected to opera, particularly Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Lucy Steigerwald 6 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org

 

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Thu., April 21 -- Music

Lily Afshar, a celebrity in her homeland of Iran, is the only Middle Eastern guitarist with an international performing career. She's also the first woman anywhere to hold a doctor of musical arts degree in classical-guitar performance. Afshar now heads the University of Memphis guitar program, and remains known for her unusual guitar sounds and techniques. Tonight she gives a free concert courtesy of the Carnegie Mellon School of Music. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Kresge Theater, College of Fine Arts Building, CMU campus, Oakland. Free. www.music.cmu.edu

 

Thu., April 21 -- Film

Pittsburgh Filmmakers turns 40 this year, and Film Kitchen marks the anniversary with ... a filmmaking contest. This iteration of the monthly screening series' annual contest seeks films under five minutes in length that thematically incorporate Filmmakers' 40th and are based on a few vintage photos to be found on Filmmakers' website. Finalists will compete for cash prizes at the June 7 Picture This event, at the Harris Theater, screening alongside work by invited artists. The submission deadline is May 21; find details at www.pghfilmmakers.org. BO

 

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Fri., April 22 -- Comedy

Jerry Seinfeld, Mike Epps and three quarters of the Blue Collar Comedy tour -- Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy -- all descend upon Pittsburgh this weekend. Not together, mind you. Comedy tours are not quite that diverse yet. All these men have large followings -- as well as successful forays into sitcoms, movies, and reality and game shows -- even if their audiences don't overlap much. Sadly, a demographically diverse journey through them all is not possible, since the Blue Collar crew (Consol Energy Center) and Epps (Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall) both visit tonight. (Seinfeld arrives at the Benedum Center on Sat., April 23.) Still, if you're tickled by Seinfeld's cynical whimsy, Epps' salty looks at gender and race, or the Blue Collar folks' affectionate skewering of-slash-tributes to low-brow America, take your pick. LS Epps: 7 and 9:30 p.m. (4141 Fifth Ave., Oakland. $25-65; www.mikeeppspittsburgh.com). Foxworthy, Engvall and Cable Guy: 8 p.m. (1001 Fifth Ave., Downtown; $62.50; www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000). Seinfeld: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Sat., April 23 (Benedum Center, 719 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $49.75-79.75, www.pgharts.org or 412-456-6666)

 

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Sat., April 23 -- Outdoors

One of the more scenic -- and most strenuous -- activities on Venture Outdoors' calendar is the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Quest. The idea is to complete all 70 miles of this spectacular route in a series of eight separate guided Saturday hikes. But because you needn't do all eight, it's perfectly OK to start with today's hike, the second in the series. The moderately paced outings, traversing state parks, forests, gamelands and more, average 10 miles, so you need to be fit. The day starts with a bus shuttle from Monroeville to the trailhead, where hike leader Kenn Howard takes over. The next hike is May 7, and these Laurel Highland outings continue into August. BO 9 a.m.-6 p.m. $20 per hike. Preregister at www.ventureoutdoors.org.

 

Sat. April 23 -- Benefit

Joe Negri, the jazz guitarist and former resident of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, has been a Pittsburgh staple for more than 50 years. So has the locally based Brother's Brother Foundation. Negri and Brother's Brother team with the University of Pittsburgh for "This Moment, Once in a Lifetime" -- a musical benefit for Japan in the wake of the tsunami and nuclear disaster. Brother's Brother is nationally known and has been highlighted in Forbes for its operating efficiency and speed in getting supplies to disasters the world over. Also performing are Yuko Eguchi, Matt Gillespie, Emily Pinkerton and others. LS 2 p.m. Bellefield Hall Auditorium, 315 S. Bellefield Ave., Oakland. $5-10 suggested donation. 412-648-7763 or jordanb@pitt.edu

 

Sat., April 23 -- Puppets

Venerable Bread & Puppet Theater, the troupe with a social-justice mission, is on a mid-Atlantic tour and returns to Pittsburgh with The Decapitalization Cabaret. The Vermont-based outfit's latest tuneful slapstick satire takes on farms vs. jails, universal health care, immigration and more, all with live music. The show is staged at the Brewhouse's recently re-opened Space 101 Gallery; sponsors include ArtUp, Puppet Happening, Schmutz Co. and Joy Toujours & The Toys Du Jour. The performance is followed by Bread & Puppet's traditional "cheap art" sale. BO 7 p.m. 2100 Mary St., South Side. Pay-what-you-wish. 412-381-7767 or www.puppethappening.com

 

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Wed., April 27 -- Words

Comics, even underground comics, have typically been a boys' town. Meet an early, important and prominent exception tonight as The Toonseum welcomes writer, artist and historian Trina Robbins. In the '70s, Robbins published underground-comics landmarks like Wimmen's Comix and the all-women It Ain't Me, Babe; later, she drew "Wonder Woman" and wrote teen-age-superhero series "Go Girl!" Robbins has also written history books -- including two on legendary illustrator Nell Brinkley -- and been an outspoken critic of sexism in the comics industry. Tonight, in conjunction with the Toonseum's Brenda Starr: The Art of Dale Messick, Robbins discusses that influential female comics artist and her own career. BO 7:30 p.m. 945 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $20. 412-232-0199 or www.toonseum.com

 

Thu., April 28 -- Music

Alia Musica Pittsburgh, founded in 2006 by a group of young local composers, showcases sophisticated new music for both chamber groups and larger ensembles. Its two-part spring concert series features work for chamber ensembles drawn from a national call for scores from composers with Pittsburgh connections. Each installment at St. Paul's Synod Hall features both a few of those submitted works and compositions by Alia Musica members. The first concert, tonight, includes Marcus Kim's "Songs for Iraque Children" (for soprano, percussion and string quartet) and artistic director Federico Garcia's "Aquel que al verme" (mezzosoprano, flute, viola, guitar, two percussionists). The second concert is May 14. BO 7 p.m. 125 N. Craig St. , Oakland. $12-15; free for children under 15. www.alia-musica.org

 

Thu., April 28 -- Dance

A new point of connection in local dance is the hiring of Bodiography Contemporary Ballet founding artistic director Maria Caruso as head of the La Roche College Dance Department. To mark the transition, Caruso offers the college's first annual Spring Gala, tonight at the Byham Theater. The evening includes contemporary and classical works by guest choroegraphers including Nicole Cerilli, Karen Dacko and Jocelyn Hrzic, performed by La Roche dance students. BO 8 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $25. 412-456-6666

 

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF MIGUEL MALDONADO
  • Photo courtesy of Miguel Maldonado

Thu., April 28 -- Music

After nearly 60 years, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas ("Little Dolls of Matanzas") is officially a Cuban tradition. Legend has it the rumba group began with impromptu singing, using barstools and cutlery as percussion. These days, this Afro-Cuban troupe uses more proper drums, mixing addings Spanish vocals and expressive dance. Descendents of the band's first dancer are among the 16 members of this ensemble who bring their rhythms to the U.S. for the first time in a decade, following the lifting of Bush-era travel restrictions. LS 8 p.m. August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $20-30. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

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