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Friday, August 17, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 11:00 AM

Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival - CP PHOTO BY LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo by Lisa Cunningham
Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival
Daily grind got you dreaming of an escape? Then head to the hills!

Tucked into the beautiful wilderness of Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset, about an hour drive from Pittsburgh, the cheerful picking of strings will flow through the trees this weekend for the annual Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival.

The stage is set up under a large tent, with seating available on a first-come, first-serve basis. It usually fills up fast. City Paper recommends bringing chairs or a blanket to sit on the grass. You can still hear the music, and you'll get a better view of the mountains against the skyline as you listen.

Colebrook Road
Colebrook Road
Seven bluegrass bands play over the course of the fest — four on Saturday, three on Sunday. Aren't able to get there when it starts? No worries. Stick around — each band plays a second set.

Favorites include Harrisburg band Colebrook Road, whose contemporary, upbeat strings are perfect for dancing, and Jakob's Ferry Stragglers, who bring a fresh take to bluegrass tunes with hints of rockabilly. Fans of Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Arts Festival will recognize its annual Bluegrass Day staple Allegheny Grifters, a must-see for lovers of traditional tunes.

And the festival is totally free! But bring cash for food trucks and church stands, providing cheap eats like barbecue, haluski, and desserts. There's also a vendor area with wares from local artisans, typically selling homemade goods like candles, jams, and pottery. Somerset County is renowned for its maple syrup, if you can find some.
click to enlarge Allegheny Grifters
Allegheny Grifters

Want to fully embrace the retreat from city life? Sign up for a wagon ride or check out the old-timey village set up at the top of the hill, with demonstrations by reenactors dressed in period garb.

The festival's organization is impressive — volunteers direct traffic, there's ADA parking and shuttle drivers to give lifts to folks with disabilities, and people walking around the park the entire length of the festival, happy to help when needed. You can also bring your pup. The festival is dog-friendly.

One note of caution: Right now, there's a chance of thunderstorms, but in years past, when the storms come, the bands pack up then start again when and if the skies clear. Fingers crossed for sun.

Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival. Sat., Aug. 18, Noon-8 p.m., and Sun., Aug. 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Laurel Hill State Park, Somerset. Free.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 2:21 PM

Aretha Franklin — the Queen of Soul, who died Thursday morning — paved a musical pathway for contemporary artists.

Looking at Franklin's expansive career, her roots in gospel music are evident; she masterfully fuses her spiritual foundation with blues, R&B, and Rock 'n' roll.

Franklin opened doors for strong, powerful female singers, especially when she hit her 100th charted song in 2014 (becoming the most charted female in history). In 2008, Franklin won her 18th Grammy and sang at President Obama's inauguration. She was the first female to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and held close ties with Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2005, Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Franklin was a musical force, an icon for feminism, and a symbol of black empowerment.

As we mourn her passing, we've taken a look at how Franklin influenced today's singers. Below, we've listed three of today's most popular artists, and how we think they've taken cues from Franklin.


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Beyoncé approaches life's ruthlessness with an air of lightness. Formation, a song released in 2016, pairs a catchy melody with politically-charged lyrics. Her rhythms are upbeat, similar to Jump To It by Franklin; Both women love unconventional beats. Franklin contrasted melodic resolution with lyric unrest flawlessly.

Jennifer Hudson

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One of Hudson's best known performances is And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going, an emotionally laden piece that requires a tremendous vocal range. Hudson's voice, a powerhouse of strength and tone, mimics Franklin's ability to sustain sound. Hudson has the same raw energy and rasp that Franklin brought to songs such as Respect and Think.

Alicia Keys

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Keys takes cues from Franklin's commanding, storytelling inflections. Her vocal agility parallels Franklin's; both artists fluctuate between genres with ease. Keys mirrors Franklin's method of building the melody, yet holding back right at the climax, keeping dramatic tension. Songs like (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and If I Ain't Got You spotlight this. 

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 12:54 PM

click to enlarge David Resnik's PNC Park model - PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID RESNIK
Photo courtesy of David Resnik
David Resnik's PNC Park model

David Resnik loves architecture and baseball, so his love of a well designed ballpark should come as no surprise. When the Cleveland native isn't at school studying architecture, he spends his time building miniature versions of America's great ballparks and arenas: Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Safeco Field in Seattle, Minute Maid ark in Houston, and Fenway Park in Boston. 

Resnik’s latest project is a model of PNC Park, complete with working stadium lights, miniature video board, and the third-baseline view of the city skyline. All proceeds from the “Mini PNC Park” raffle will go to Miracle League of the South Hills. City Paper spoke with Resnik about his take on the iconic Pittsburgh stadium and how he got into the business of miniatures. 

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Monday, August 13, 2018
Sponsored CP Extra

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 1:52 PM

click to enlarge BRITTANY BARNICOTT
Brittany Barnicott

St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores will celebrate National Thrift Shop Day with a two-day sale on Friday, August 17th and Saturday, August 18th. All items in the stores will be 20% off on Friday and 50% off on Saturday. Additionally on Saturday, the Monroeville store will have games, prizes, and a visit from Star 100.7.

Since its founding in 1852, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has provided vital support for individuals and families in need throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. That assistance comes in the form of food, housing, clothes, furniture, transportation, and many other everyday essentials. Last year, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provided assistance to 104,294 people, and every purchase made at their thrift stores support those individuals and many others in need.

click to enlarge BRITTANY BARNICOTT
Brittany Barnicott

“Our programs rely heavily on our thrift store donors and customers, and we’re so grateful for their continued support. We wanted to have this celebration as a way to say thank you for everything they do to improve our communities,” said Ricardo Luckow, Executive Director for the Society of
St. Vincent de Paul in Pittsburgh.

While St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores are a source of funding for the organization’s programs, they also provide a cost-effective, unique shopping experience for their customers. From vintage clothes and accessories to furniture and household appliances, there are always new items
to explore.

click to enlarge BRITTANY BARNICOTT
Brittany Barnicott

“It’s always fun to hear from customers about how they’re going to redo or upcycle the items they find,” said Dawn Dietz, manager of the Monroeville St. Vincent de Paul. “And our affordability and quality allow our customers to help us help others – which is the most important part of what we

To celebrate National Thrift Shop Day, find a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store near you. Stores are located in Castle Shannon, Coraopolis, Monroeville, and Swissvale. For more information, visit

St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores

Shannon, Coraopolis, Monroeville, & Swissvale

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 3:37 PM

It’s not always bad when someone slides into your DMs.

At least it wasn’t for Jubilee, a performer at the 2018 Crosstown Cookout.

Derek Burnell, one of the faces behind the annual Crosstown Cookout (owner of El Burro, Umami Izakaya, and Round Corner Cantina), reached out to the artist about his event while in London and followed up with a meeting with Jubilee at an afterparty.

“I get a lot of weird messages on Instagram,” the Miami-raised, NYC-based and UK-resident DJ Jubilee laughed. “But [Burnell] came to an afterparty and I just thought, ‘this guy is so cool.’”

Jubilee is known as "The First Lady of Miami Bass" and is just one artist on Crosstown’s talent-filled lineup. She first discovered her love for drum-and-bass in Miami’s underground rave scene; now she runs a segment on BBC Radio 1’s Residency and plays regularly in the U.S. and U.K.

The stages will be headlined by A-Trak, a turntable prodigy recognized for his mission to ignore barriers and fuse genres.

At 22, A-Trak kickstarted his career by opening for Kanye West. Since then, the DJ has started a label, Fool’s Gold, producing artists like Kid Cudi and Onra. A-Trak is half of Duck Sauce, the disco duo behind the global sensation, “Barbra Streisand.”

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Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 12:16 PM

click to enlarge CP PHOTOS BY HANNAH LYNN
CP photos by Hannah Lynn
The first time I saw Taylor Swift live, I was a freshman in high school. I was 15, a very important age for Swift fans. In the song, "Fifteen," Swift sings about feeling everything, without being old enough to know just how much else is out there. I probably cried to it a dozen times.

At the Pittsburgh stop of her Reputation tour, I didn’t feel the connection I used to, but there were plenty of people, many of them 15, that did. There were throngs of young girls in costumes and DIY shirts: gold letters on a black tee that said “hug me Taylor,” a glittery sign hanging on a girl’s neck that said “handle with care: delicate,” another girl adorned with tide pods and a sign that said “TAYpods.”

The massive, elaborate show at Heinz Field was her fifth performance at the stadium, she announced. She opened with “... Ready For It?” the second single from Reputation that plays like an essential oil diffuser with a drop of hip-hop oil.

The song is meant to set the tone for the rest of the album, which is generally about love, revenge, bad reputations, haters, dresses. She wants her longterm fans and critics alike to know that she's an adult now, and will behave as such, by wearing black lipstick and singing about old fashioneds.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 2:43 PM

We're revealing the top 10 nominees for this year's Best of Pittsburgh readers' poll. Below are finalists for Best Card Store. Check back on August 8 to see who takes the top three spots, and click here to get your tickets to this year's Best of Party before it sells out!

Kards Unlimited

A staple in the Shadyside community for over 40 years.

love, Pittsburgh

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The perfect store for all your quirky Steel City needs.


Looking for personalized stationary, wedding invitations, or business cards? Papier is perfect for you.


Lawrenceville's beloved card store, spotlighting local artists.

Top Deck Cards and Games

They have that Yu-Gi-Oh card you've been searching for since 8th grade.

Bebe blu design

Debbie Barbarita hand-illustrates each design, each drawing dedicated to her sister. 

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Sunday, August 5, 2018

Posted By on Sun, Aug 5, 2018 at 12:32 PM

Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan at PPG Paints Arena on Sat., Aug. 4, 2018 - CP PHOTO BY MIKE PAPARIELLA
CP photo by Mike Papariella
Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan at PPG Paints Arena on Sat., Aug. 4, 2018
The Smashing Pumpkins brought its "Shiny and Oh So Bright tour" to PPG Paints Arena last night, playing a three-hour set mixed with songs old and new.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 4:57 PM

click to enlarge Cover for Good Dude Lojack's Colorless Green Dreams, out on Fri., Aug. 3 on MISC Records
Cover for Good Dude Lojack's Colorless Green Dreams, out on Fri., Aug. 3 on MISC Records
Good Dude Lojack returns this week with Colorless Green Dreams, the followup to the excellent 2017 full-length Voyage. In some ways, it's a departure: the songs are noticeably shorter and easier to digest on the first listen than the stubborn, heady repetition of Voyage. But the smart sampling, impossible danciness and dynamic production remain intact. If you're unfamiliar with GDL, he's a Pittsburgh-based DJ/producer with a handful of excellent, minimalist (IDMish) releases under his belt. Here's "Spicy Pho."

reached out to Good Dude Lojack at the tail end of a trip to Germany to talk about the new album. Catch his performance/album release show at Apteka, with Naeem and ONDO / GUSTO, at 9:30 p.m. on Fri., Aug. 3. It's free.

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Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 9:32 AM

We're revealing the top 10 finalists for this year's Best of Pittsburgh readers' poll. Below are our finalists for Best City Tour. Check back here on August 8 to see who took the top three spots, and click here to get your tickets to this year's Best of Party before it sells out!

Just Ducky Tours

Ducky Tours prove that the novelty of boat cars never wear off, and they are a special experience for the kids.

Gateway Clipper Fleet

The Gateway Clipper is immediately recognizable to Pittsburghers, and that is a testament to its success as a river tour.

Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tours

Eat your way through every neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

Cruisin' Tikis Pittsburgh

They provide the tiki, you provide the booze.

Segway Pittsburgh

What's more fun than zooming around the city ? Just avoid the potholes.

City Brew Tours Pittsburgh

Check out Pittsburgh's most underground breweries and learn some history too!

Boat Pittsburgh

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The name says it all. 

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