Critics' Picks: February 13 - 19 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks: February 13 - 19

Local shows by Jandek, Donora, Bad Books and Wayne "The Train" Hancock


A widely regarded outsider of the blues and folk-music scene, Jandek has released well over 60 albums' worth of strangely constructed East Texas blues, available for order from a P.O. Box in Houston, Texas. Over the years, the reclusive artist has developed a following of fans captivated by both his elusive persona and the haunting undertones of his simple songs. Prior to 2004, the prospect of a live performance seemed an impossibility. But since then he's been popping up around the country, playing shows with local musicians — tonight's backing band includes Jason Dowling and "Red Bob" Jungkunz (of  The Gothees). John Lavanga 8 p.m. ModernFormations Gallery, 4919 Penn Ave., Garfield. $10-15. All ages. 412-362-0274 or

Critics' Picks: February 13 - 19
Photo courtesy of Bea Chiappelli


Local indie-pop trio Donora has really started to develop a national following since its release of Boyfriends, Girlfriends in September 2011. The album's high-energy, bright and cheery collection of tracks garnered rave reviews nationwide, and many of the songs were soon featured in national ads and TV shows. This year, the band continues carrying its upbeat sound forward with Play Nice, an EP that successfully manages the difficult balancing act between remaining addictively poppy, yet sonically complex. As vocalist Casey Hanner's peppy vocals perfectly complement the full percussion and melodious samples of her brother Jake, bassist Jake Churton anchors the endeavor with steady, catchy, rhythms; it's hard not to be shocked by how full a sound this three-piece creates. Donora has gone on a short tour in support of the EP and is rounding it out with a trip to Brillobox with Rostrum labelmates Teammate and Ohio's Way Yes. JL 10 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville. $10. 412-621-4900 or

Critics' Picks: February 13 - 19
Photo courtesy of Harrison Hudson


Last year, indie singer-songwriter Kevin Devine teamed up with Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull to form Bad Books, which released its first record, II, in October. (Other members of Manchester Orchestra back them up, but it's more a duo collaboration than a matter of Devine joining the band.) With such a pedigree, expectations were high for II — and the album lived up to them, showing Bad Books to be a real songwriter's band. Its first tour comes to Mr. Small's Theatre tonight. The Front Bottoms and Weatherbox open. Andy Mulkerin 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $13.50. All ages. 412-821-4447 or

Critics' Picks: February 13 - 19
Photo courtesy of Sandy Carson


First things first: Locals should be sure not to mix Wayne "The Train" Hancock up with Wayne "The Train" DiBartola, the onetime Pitt football player and current sedation-dentistry guy. Two different guys, completely. Hancock is the one who's playing at Thunderbird Café tonight; he's the Texas native who plays old-school country, often of the sad-and-lonesome variety, and has been likened to Hank Williams Sr. by no less than Hank III. It's not all downbeat, but his plaintive vocals are legendary, so bring a hanky if you're the cry-it-out type. Todd May opens. AM 9 p.m. 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $15-17. 412-682-0177 or

Flamingo Fest at the National Aviary
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Flamingo Fest at the National Aviary

By Mars Johnson