BLOGH: City Paper's Blog |
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 1:33 PM

As is tradition now, I bring you a new Spotify playlist that can also act as your guide to what concerts to go see (or perhaps what not to go see, depending) this week in Pittsburgh. This was kind of a tough week, for two reasons: First, holiday weekends tend to be light on touring acts, because they like to go home to their roosts for a bit, and second, a few of our featured artists (Jimmer Podrasky, Sleepy Hahas) aren't available on Spotify. But, I've soldiered on and brought you a half-hour of music from and inspired by this issue of CP. No, Pink Floyd isn't coming to town. But some folks are recreating Dark Side for you

Without further ado, tune in: 


Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Traditional gender roles dictate that women can usually be found in the kitchen on Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season while men get some R&R watching football in the living room.

I went shopping with Chris Rapier, who divides work with his girlfriend by skill set, not by gender role. He cooks Thanksgiving dinner for 20-30 people each year. Armful after armful of groceries, we returned to his car to load it up with turkey and duck - for his turducken, which last year weighed 32 pounds - and veggies, meats, cheeses and so on.

Rapier is just one example of how some families are leaving behind gender roles this holiday season. Watch this video below of him preparing for his Thanksgiving feast, and read the City Paper's full story in this week's issue.

 Produced by Ashley Murray

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 4:01 PM

For the young black men at today's Pittsburgh rally to support Ferguson, Mo, the death of Michael Brown is a terrifying reality. Brown was a high school graduate shot and killed on Aug. 9 by a police officer.

"As a black man who is the same age as Michael Brown, it worries me that I basically have to feel unsafe whenever I'm around a police officer," said Malcolm Williams, a CAPA High School graduate attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Protesters demonstrating lives lost to police brutality
  • Protesters demonstrating lives lost to police brutality

"I could easily be the next Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin," said Kasem Kydd, a Jamaica, Queens native also referring to another young black man who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

At the rally at the Downtown Federal Building today, Pittsburghers stood in solidarity with Brown's family and other victims of police brutality. The rally was spurred by last night's announcement by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch that a grand jury would not indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Brown four times.

"How could they possibly not find some evidence of guilt on any of those charges," said Pete Shell of the Thomas Merton Antiwar Committee. "This is just another sign that there is a war on people of color."

"They criminalize every Black person who is shot by a cop," said Bekezela Mguni. "They try to justify our death."

Pittsburgh has had it's own share of incidents involving police brutality. One of the most recent involved Leon Ford, a teenager who was paralyzed after being shot by police who pulled him over for driving through a stop sign.

In addition to calling for justice for Brown and the indictment, arrest and prosecution of Wilson, the officer who shot him, the protesters today also called for justice at the local level. The organizers also want to see the reinstatement of a federal consent decree overseeing Pittsburgh police

They are demanding the officer who shot Ford be assigned to desk duty and for the local district attorney to prosecute officers for misconduct. In September, a jury found Ford not guilty of two felony counts of aggravated assault and the organizers of today's event are asking that remaining charges of reckless endangerment and resisting arrest be dropped.

"We're going to be gathering people to strategically figure our what our moves will be," says Julia Johnson, one of the event's organizer. "We're considering direct action, civil disobedience, voter registration drives, and making our people more sustainable."

Another rally will take place this evening at 7:00 p.m. at Forbes Ave. and Bigelow Blvd. in Oakland.

Tags: , , ,

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 2:26 PM

click to enlarge The New Pornographers - PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID BUCK
Photo courtesy of David Buck
The New Pornographers
It's Tuesday afternoon, which means I bring you a roundup of recent concert announcements from local promoters. Let's get down to it!

A couple new ones for Mr. Small's: Sun., Feb. 8, the Millvale hall hosts the Chris Robinson Brotherhood ($22, on sale now), featuring the Black Crowe brother. And Fri., Feb. 13, The New Pornographers play Small's as part of their Brill Bruisers tour ($30, on sale now).

At Club Cafe, Fri., Dec. 26 will be Ali Spagnola's farewell-to-Pittsburgh power hour show; look for more on that in CP in the coming weeks. Fri., Jan. 9, the Pittsburgh-based David Lynchian band Silencio headlines Club Cafe. 

At Altar Bar and beyond, the Strip District Music Fest will bring a bajillion rock bands together for a day of free music Jan. 17. 

And over at the Rex Theater, touring stalwarts Donna the Buffalo stop by Jan. 29 with help from Ekoostik Hookah ($20, on sale now). 

Tags: ,

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM

In the past few years, neighborhood-based music festivals have become a fixture in Pittsburgh: mid-summer brings the Deutschtown Festival on the North Side, and Lawrenceville has its RANT in August. But the coldest of them all (most likely) will be a new addition for 2015: The Strip District Music Fest. 

Rock bands of all varieties — from Bastard Bearded Irishmen to Daily Grind and Neon Swing X-perience — will play a slew of venues from 16th all the way up to 28th, on both Penn and Smallman. The anchor venue is Altar Bar, and plenty of traditional and nontraditional venues alike will be participating. 

It's sponsored by City Paper, which I guess I should note, and the real kicker: It's FREE. So you can't really complain about it ... unless you get frostbite on your nose walking from venue to venue. 

Details, including a list of currently announced bands, here. 

Tags: ,

Monday, November 24, 2014

Posted By on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 4:46 PM

Post written by Lissa Brennan

As we waited for the audience to troop into Carnegie Music Hall for the live performance of Green Porno on Friday, Isabella Rossellini's famously gorgeous face could be seen repeatedly popping out from behind the curtain.

Isabella Rossellini in Green Porno
  • Isabella Rossellini in "Green Porno"
Due to some difficulties at the will-call counter, the show began a good 15 minutes late, leaving the acclaimed actress stranded in the wings while the audience slowly filed in. Rather than sneakily, coolly peering through a tiny break, Rossellini stuck her whole head out. The gesture was charming and endearing, and an encapsulation of the woman and her performance.

Combining video clips from the Sundance Channel series about animal sex that she wrote, directed and starred in with a spoken performance somewhere between lecture and storytelling, Green Porno was an hour of solid entertainment from beginning to end.

There were a couple of costume changes, executed onstage. Rossellini had a smattering of props, ranging from exuberant blossoms to paper sea creatures, briefly taken up then unceremoniously discarded, tossed on the floor behind her.

The text and the clips itself could have been performed with another actress, or even actor, as the star, and would still have merited a hearty round of applause. But the standing ovation belonged to Rossellini, who was nothing but enchanting from beginning to end.

Here's my preview of the show for CP, including an interview with Rossellini.

Tags: , , , ,

Posted By on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 4:02 PM

click to enlarge Meghann Wright
Meghann Wright
It's almost Thanksgiving, and by default it's also almost the drinkingest day of the year, but before we get to either of those, we've got Meghann Wright coming to the Smiling Moose tomorrow (Tuesday). The Brooklyn-based folkie is hitting the home stretch on a tour that took her up and down the East Coast; this year, she released her debut EP this year, and is also responsible for The City and the Heart, a support organization for women singer-songwriters in New York City. Below, check out her song "Left My Heart in Brooklyn," and see her live tomorrow night.

Tags: , , ,

Posted By on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Today the Pittsburgh Penguins and local leaders announced plans to build a new U.S. Steel headquarters on the former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill District. The site will be built with a mix of private and public dollars including $15 million in state funding and unknown local contributions from taxpayers.

Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse
  • Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse

Developers are expected to break ground on the 268,000 square-foot site as early as August 2015 and complete the five-story building in September 2017. The building will also feature retail space and a steel museum.

Development of the 28-acre site has been a point of contention between the Pittsburgh Penguins and some Hill District residents who want development on the site to benefit their neighborhood. While Hill District Councilman Daniel Lavelle, says he hasn't talked to members of the community about the U.S. Steel development, he's confident it will lead to dividends for his constituents.

"I have not spoken with the community as a whole," says Lavelle. "But this is going to kick-start the revitalization we have planned for the Hill."

While officials did not provide information on how much the project would cost, or how much the city's contribution would be, the mayor's office says upwards of $3 million could go toward developing the Hill District as a result of the U.S. Steel construction.

The new headquarters will utilize the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Act District tax abatement program. According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the program "was created to improve the economic and business climate of certain residential and commercial districts by lessening the tax burden on new development."

"One of the beautiful things about this development is half of the tax abatement program that's being used to build this building will be spent to rebuild the middle Hill," said Mayor Bill Peduto, "and to reconnect the community back to the center core of the city in a way that will provide affordable housing, job training and other types of amenities that the community will be looking for."

The City Planning Commission has yet to approve the Penguins' development plan for the 28-acre site. Last week, Hill District residents filled the public hearing on the plan, many of them there to call for greater affordable housing in the development proposal.

Tags: , , , ,

Posted By on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 12:59 PM

The ole Artworks is not known as a comedy venue — indeed this storefront space, though an underground standby, is not known to the vast majority of Pittsburghers as a venue of any sort. That was a subplot of last Friday’s show, which included a nice set by the nationally known sociopolitical comic as well as an unnannounced guest spot by Wyatt Cenac.

W. Kamau Bell
  • Photo courtesy of Matthias Clamer
  • W. Kamau Bell
The Artworks is the longest-running arts venue on its stretch of Penn Avenue; for years after its launch in the early ‘90s, it was the only active gallery or performance space beween Liberty Avenue and East Liberty, hosting noteworthy art shows and edgy local and touring musical acts.

Now, ironically, while the rest of Penn continues to blossom, the Artworks is preparing to close its doors in early December. These days it’s got some cobwebs, it’s got books and records piled up front garage-sale style, and right in the middle of the space there’s a big, sprawling stack of something (furniture?) shrouded in tarps.

That all was fodder for Bell, late of the FX/FXX show Totally Biased with Kamau Bell and critically acclaimed for his sharp humor about racism and gender politics. He ad-libbed “so it’s come to this” jokes about the venue to complement bits about things like being mistaken for Questlove — “Apparently there’s only allowed to be one nappy-haired black man in America at a time” — and being father to two mixed-race daughters.

Here’s CP’s preview Q&A with Bell.

A nice surprise, after a solid set by local comic Jordan Weeks, was Cenac’s appearance. Cenac, in town for a late-night show across town at Club Café, stopped in to warm up for his buddy Bell. Highlights of Cenac’s set included a bit on American attitudes toward soccer.

Americans hate soccer so much, he said, that they gave it a “slave name.”

“Your name is soccer.”

“But my name is football.”

Makes whipcrack sound. “Your name is soccer!”

Here’s our preview Q&A with Cenac.

The evening also included a clever set by Bell’s touring buddy, Zach Sherwin. Both of them stuck around after the show, when some of the patrons who had clearly never been to the Artworks before (which I’d guess included at least half of the crowd of about 70) kept commiserating with the two comics about having to play such an inelegant joint. Sherwin seemed to appreciate it, though, when I shared a little of the Artworks’ role in Pittsburgh culture.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Posted By on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 11:15 AM

click to enlarge Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has announced Smokey Robinson will be the celebrity judge for this year's sing-off competition at Highmark First Night Pittsburgh. 

The sing-off competition is for kids in grades 6-12, and contestants enter by submitting Youtube videos of themselves singing one song written by Smokey Robinson, and one other song of their choice. 

So, let's get this straight: You are a kid. You sing a song written by Smokey. Smokey himself watches a video of you singing this song, and judges you. If you're really good, you get a slot singing at First Night. (To be fair, how can you really know that it's Smokey watching you? If I were you, I'd demand a video of Smokey watching a video of you singing. But that's just me.)

To enter, submit your videos here before the end of the day Dec. 12. Good luck!

Tags: , , ,