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Friday, December 8, 2017

Posted By on Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Stephen Karam's comedic family drama is built around a Thanksgiving dinner that feels ripped from this past November.

click to enlarge Final weekend for "The Humans" at the Public
Photo courtesy of Michael Henninger
J. Tucker Smith and Valeri Mudek in "The Humans"
The parents and grandmother, from Scranton, are visiting the youngest daughter and her boyfriend in their Manhattan apartment, joined by the older daughter, who lives in Philly. There's Catholicism, regret, ribbing, "I love you, but I'm just saying," dementia, overlapping dialogue, and lots of bathroom breaks.

The acting is terrific in this local premiere at Pittsburgh Public Theater, and director Pamela Berlin orchestrates the action on the bi-level set beautifully, leaving room for tender human moments that are all the more moving for their brevity. It's quite funny, also.

As Ted Hoover notes in his review for CP, the play's ending is rather mystifying. But it is, if nothing else, open-ended, and provides lots of fodder for discussion.

The Humans has four more performances, tonight through Sunday.

Tickets are $15.75-65 and are available here.

The O'Reilly Theater is located at 621 Penn Ave., Downtown.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 6:11 PM

click to enlarge Elvis Costello cancels Pittsburgh Heinz Hall show in solidarity with PSO strikers
By Victor Diaz Lamich via Wikimedia Commons
Elvis Costello
Those who don't regularly attend  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concerts may not have given much thought to the ongoing PSO strike. But, with the announcement today that Elvis Costello has canceled his Nov. 1 appearance at Heinz Hall, the orchestra's home base, the strike may have more resonance for rock n roll fans. 

Costello released the following statement:

I regret to inform you that our "Imperial Bedroom & Other Chambers" concert at Heinz Hall cannot go ahead, as I am unwilling to cross an AFofM picket line during the current strike by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. 

I hope that the dispute will soon be settled honorably and amicably and that The Imposters and I will have the opportunity to perform at Heinz Hall before too long. We send our apologies to ticket holders and all our friends in Pittsburgh with thanks for your understanding and support of live music wherever it is heard. 

Respectfully. Elvis Costello.

According to a press release from Drusky Entertainment, who booked the show, full refunds will be granted to originals form of payment, and cash purchasers will receive a refund check. For questions, please call the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900.

Read more about the strike here

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 11:42 AM

Seven years in, it's almost difficult to remember a time before VIA, which has since then created an increasingly challenging and diverse space in which to explore the intersection of new music, art and technology. This year's festival — happening Oct. 6-9 — offers one of its coolest lineups yet.
click to enlarge VIA Festival announces its 2016 lineup
Juliana Huxtable

Headliners include influential post-punk group ESG, playing its first-ever show in Pittsburgh — and for that matter, Pennsylvania; legendary MC Rakim, who will perform Paid In Full in its entirety; and "legend-to-be" Juliana Huxtable, a poet/artist/model/DJ and prominent member of the New York City's LGBT community. "After her performance at [Carnegie Museum of Art] last year, we know her Shock Value party is guaranteed bananas," organizers Lauren Goshinski and Quinn Leonowicz wrote in an email to CP

Other performers include, among others, Empress Of, Junglepussy, Rabit, Aye Nako, Fee Lion, Ghost Cop, Lee Bannon, and Ben UFO. "He's only in his 20s, but we've been trying to get Ben UFO to play here for the last 40 years," joke the organizers, adding that UFO is "one of the most versatile DJs out there." Locally-based performances and artists, visual programming and other events will be announced later, but "[a]s always, our visual programming is stacked — we'll have a Virtual Reality salon and so much more." 
This year, Ace Hotel will act as the flagship venue for the event, which is scheduled for Oct. 6-9. In addition to festival passes, Ace VIP passes are also available and include a two- or three-night stay in the hotel, all-access festival passes, and a few other perks. "We always like to experiment with the structure and locations of the fest. Since The Real World Pittsburgh never happened, we're taking a stab at it," writes Goshinski and Leonowicz. "Ace Hotel is giving us the keys to the castle, so VIP pass-holders and artists can eat, sleep and breathe the fest with each other under one roof." Both Ace VIP and regular passes are available for purchase now. If you don't want a pass, individual event prices range from free to $25.

Visit VIA's website for more information. 

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 2:52 PM

Building issues lead to an earlier-than-expected closing for Altar Bar
Photograph by Aaron Warnick
Cello Fury performs at Altar Bar as part of the 2016 Strip District Music Festival

Back in June, we reported that Drusky Entertainment's long-tenure at Altar Bar would be ending, as the concert promotion company's lease was running out, and the building was being sold.

Yesterday, it was announced that, because of unspecified building issues and safety concerns that came up during the building's sale, the desanctified church's life as a music venue was cut even shorter than expected, and has been closed as of July 15. Drusky had originally planned a series of farewell concerts which have all been moved to new venues or canceled. The schedule changes are below:

July 15: Los Lonely Boys (CANCELED)
July 16: Dark Side Of The Moon (CANCELED)
July 18: Intronaut (Moved to Cattivo)
July 22: Amy Winehouse Tribute (CANCELED)
July 23: Descendsion, Silk9, Shroudned In Neglect, Dimlite & Fiveunder (CANCELED)
July 24: PVRIS (Moved to Rex Theater)
July 25: August Burns Red (Moved to Rex Theater)
July 26: August Burns Red (Moved to Rex Theater)
July 27: Jon Bellion (TBA)
July 28: Daily Grind (Moved to Cattivo)
July 28: Emo Night Live Band Karaoke (CANCELED)
July 29: Punchline (Moved to Rex Theater, September 30)
July 29: Drake Vs. Kanye (CANCELED)
July 31: I Prevail (Moved to Rex Theater)

"We’re all very disappointed that we were unable to have one last hoorah," Drusky vice president Josh Bakaitus, who has personally been booking shows at Altar Bar for eight years, wrote in an email to CP. "All of the staff and bands were excited to go out with a bang but unfortunately it is what it is. We’re again thankful that our friends at the Rex have helped us find a home for a lot of our shows and some of our staff.

Bakaitus, who names The Dead Milkmen and Imagine Dragons as some of the most memorable shows he witnessed at the venue, acknowledges that the space elicited mixed feelings from concert-goers. "Altar certainly had its strengths and weaknesses," he writes. "We all know that. A lot of really good people put their hearts & souls into that place to help it improve and succeed. I think whether you hated the poorly designed staircase in the middle of the floor or loved the intimacy of the space, most importantly it impacted you in some way and it was a driving force in the Pittsburgh music scene. I’m very thankful for the time I was able to spend there with the amazing people that grew to become family." 

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 1:56 PM

click to enlarge Faced with steep renovation costs, Pittsburgh's James Street Gastropub launches #SaveJamesStreet campaign
Photo by Luke Thor Travis
The Nox Boys perform in the upstairs ballroom of the James Street Gastropub as part of the Deutschtown Music Festival
James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy has hit a bit of a rough spot in recent days. The popular venue/restaurant has a long history of hosting live jazz, going back decades to when it was the James Street Tavern. The multi-floor venue hosts around 300 musical events a year, and it was a key venue for last weekend's Deutschtown Music Festival. But the show there, which featured a lineup of ten bands, was cut short by a noise complaint — odd, some attendees say, considering that there were no complaints about noise being generated at the main stage just a few blocks away. 

Now, general manager Kevin Saftner writes in press release, extensive renovations need to be made to meet Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board noise requirements. "The law does not allow for the sound of amplified music to be heard beyond the licensed premises’ property line," he writes. "Step off the sidewalk, hear music, and we’re in violation. Penalties include stiff fines, suspension of the liquor license, business closure due to being a 'nuisance bar,' even jail time."

An IndieGoGo campaign has been launched, with a flexible goal of $5,000.

The LCB doesn't seek out establishments violating the noise ordinance but according to its statutes will investigate neighbors' complaints of "loud music or entertainment by amplification or noise from entertainment emanating from the establishment." Saftner tells CP that the LCB was "not wrong" in issuing the citation, but "it's just disappointing that it happened to us." 

Shawn Kelly, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board called CP Friday morning, to clarify that despite the statement from James Street, LCB did not cite the bar. Kelly said the noise statute is part of the state’s liquor laws and enforcing those laws falls to the Liquor Control Enforcement arm of the Pa. state police. The only action the LCB could take agaisnt any establishment would be not to renew the bar’s liquor license or to renew it with conditions. “I think a lot of people think we wnforce liquor laws, but it’s not us,” Kelly said.

As the fundraising webpage says, "With your help you will not only help us keep our 30 employees and their families fed, but you will help Pittsburgh musicians, artists & many others too. James Street is honored to host the Legendary Roger Humphries' weekly Jam Session. It would be terrible to have this tradition end because of the issues we are facing. We are also honored to work with young up and coming musicians such as the Bleil Brothers, Anton DeFade, George Heid III & countless others. Again, nothing would be worse than having these aspiring artists lose yet another venue to perform at. James Street is not merely a music venue though. We host Drag Brunch, Burlesque shows, Private events, Swing Dances, Church Groups & so much more. There would be nothing worse than closing our doors to all of these amazing people.

"...In order to #SaveJamesStreet we need to raise approximately $30,000. This money will go to sound proof the Ballroom as well as to install air conditioning and new electrical work. We are asking you who to help us with just a small percent of the total cost."

The venue also plans to host a series of fundraising concerts. Keep an eye on the James Street website and/or Facebook for further updates. 

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 4:02 PM

The beginning of the end is upon us: Today Altar Bar announced the first round of shows for its "Farewell & 10 Year Anniversary Series."

Metalcore outfit August Burns Red will play two nights at the converted church venue, July 25 and 26.

Local acts Greywalker (July 25) and Arcane Haven (July 26) will serve as support. Tickets for those shows go on sale June 22 at noon. Well-loved Pittsburgh-based pop punk band Punchline will play 37 Everywhere in its entirety July 29 with support yet to be announced.

"We're considering the whole remaining schedule at Altar Bar the Farewell Series but are adding a handful of very special performances," Says Drusky vice president/partner Josh Bakaitus. "We're hustling to get as many awesome shows booked as possible within a short period of time."

After a 10-year run, Altar Bar will close it's doors as a music venue at the end of July, with a new tenant lease starting Aug. 1. More concert announcements are still to come for the farewell concert series: you can keep track of them at Drusky's website

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 10:44 AM

Earlier this week City Paper reported on a potential strike for janitorial workers in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. On Oct. 27, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 32BJ voted to give union leadership the authority to call for a strike if a contract agreement wasn’t met with the Managers, Owners and Contractors Association (MOCA), the organization that handles negotiations for local offices and buildings.

But last evening, two days before their current contract was set to expire, SEIU reached a deal with MOCA. According to SEIU, the agreement "includes a fair wage increase and maintains benefits at their current level," for 1200 local employees.

In a statement Western Pennsylvania District Leader Sam Williamson said: “We are showing that employees and businesses can work together effectively to reach a fair agreement. This is a win-win for everyone. We are glad that the day-to-day operations of these buildings will continue. We are happy these hardworking men and women can continue making a family-sustaining wage which allows them to support their families and make our city’s economy stronger. These are good jobs. Together with our commercial office cleaners and newly organized security officers, we are strengthening the middle class."

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 3:48 PM

After a nine-month stint in St. Augustine, Florida, multifaceted drag queen and artist Moon Baby is back in Pittsburgh’s orbit—and she's been busy.

click to enlarge Moon Baby Premieres New Music Video “Moi” From Her Recent EP Butter Face
Still from the video for "Moi"
And since returning this past spring, the celestial deity drag persona of Zelienople native Sam Perry has kept a schedule representative of her creative breadth: Performing at the sold-out Trans-Q Live! show at the Warhol Museum, launching the pop-up retail art installation “Moonbabyland,” reading selections from her novel Twin Fawns at Assemble for the Inqueerior showcase, co-producing a live reading of the six-episode web series “Gorlz,” a parody of Lena Dunham’s HBO show “Girls,” and guest lecturing for a Point Park English course on gender and storytelling. And also regularly hosting, and performing in, drag shows at Lucky’s and the Blue Moon. And also holding down a day job or two.

Today Moon Baby is premiering the first music video from her EP Butter Face, released this past summer. Directed by Dillon Stark, “Moi” is a stripped-down visual representation of the relationship between Perry and the created, creative identity Moon Baby. “She makes me feel alive / He gives me a body / She makes me feel like I got a life / He lets me be naughty,” Moon Baby and Perry trade off in the affirmation-rich duet that closes out this brief, lush EP.

(Video directed by Dillon Stark. Track produced by Riley Urbano and mastered by Chad Beisner.)

Butter Face is an exploration of the self and the other, sexy in sound, lyrically both otherworldly and terrestrial, and steeped in mytho-religious imagery. “When I die, place me in an earthen cradle / Atop some sunny hill / And in my mouth, place the seed of a great oak tree,” Moon Baby sings, harmonizing with herself, in the opening seconds of the EP’s first track “Pslms.”

As a drag queen, Moon Baby is a channel for creative energies. But for Perry, who had a conservative Christian upbringing, Moon Baby is also a vehicle for reconciling and even celebrating that religious past rather than discarding it and creating something new from whole cloth. “The Moon Baby is a guide for me,” Perry says, “to help me see the absolute magic of the Earth and the people who inhabit it. There is a certain mourning of identity that comes with coming out, and that’s why I never chose to do it—I see the value in my past as something that is always happening and my present as the only thing I have. Moon Baby has come to inform me, and I her, and this sort of shared essence takes place inside of me, which I will forever cherish. Simply put, my body isn’t trans—my soul is.”

On Friday, Oct. 23, Moon Baby will be performing with Thousandzz of Beez at “Please Hurt Me,” a tribute to ‘60s doo wop girl group The Crystals (think “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “He Hit Me and It Felt Like a Kiss”) at Cattivo. In her words, it’ll be “like the saddest Kay Jewelers commercial you will ever see.” It’d be lunacy to miss it.

Adam Shuck writes the Eat That, Read This daily blog.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 1:41 PM

I first heard Brooke Annibale in 2011, when she released Silence Worth Breaking. I was impressed with the songwriting and the perfect production: around that time, the Pittsburgh native was living in Nashville (she earned a degree in Music Business at Belmont University), so that polished, rootsy Music City sound was no surprise. It was music that seemed ready-made for TV dramas, and sure enough, Annibale's music has since been featured on One Tree Hill, The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, among others. 

click to enlarge Singer-songwriter Brooke Annibale releases a highly anticipated new full-length
Matt Dayak
Brooke Annibale

Since then, Annibale has moved back to Pittsburgh. The release of the 2013 EP Words in Your Eyes was followed by a frustrating period of writer's block. But last year's return to Pittsburgh helped to reignite her creativity. The songs she wrote during that time became her new full-length,  The Simple Fear, which comes out today.  Like Silence Worth Breaking, it's a polished collection of  warm singer-songwriter pop, though here she subtly trades a bit of her folk sensibly for strings-and-piano-laden soul. 

Annibale explains a bit about the idea behind the record in her bio: “I had to deal with the fear of the unknown future and the struggle of letting go of the past. Those two conflicting feelings are woven throughout these songs: letting go and moving forward ... Fear is always complicated, but it’s simple in the sense that we all have certain fears in common at some point in our lives.”

You can check out The Simple Fear on Stereogum (it's an ideal listen for a chilly gray day like this one), and don't miss Annibale's release show, happening tomorrow night, Oct. 3, at Pittsburgh Winery. 9 p.m. 2815 Penn Ave., Strip District. $12-15. 412-566-1000 or www.pittsburghwinery.com

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 1:46 PM

In this week's print-only EARLY WARNINGS feature, we note the upcoming Spirit Caravan show, happening Wed, Oct. 21. The show was originally booked at the 31st Street Pub, but between the time the blurb was written and now, the 31st Street Pub, somewhat unexpectedly, hosted its last show. 

So, Spirit Caravan will now be playing at Brillobox, in Bloomfield. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and the bands Dirty Streets and Monolith Wielder will also appear. 

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