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CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Benji performs at the Greer Cabaret Theater during the Gallery Crawl in Downtown Pittsburgh on Fri., Jan. 28, 2022.
Recently, those who have ventured Downtown may have heard the mesmerizing sounds of local hip-hop and R&B talent floating from the Cultural District’s Greer Cabaret Theater. After a relatively quiet end of 2021 amid winter COVID-19 surges, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is bringing more live music events back to the Downtown scene, aiming to make Theater Square a lively music destination every night of the week.
The music has included an exciting series featuring a wide variety of Pittsburgh R&B and hip-hop talent, and will soon feature an upcoming assortment of local jazz.
The first effort in making the Cultural Trust’s goal a reality was the Soul Stage Series at Greer Cabaret Theater, the origin of that recent rousing music. The series, which took place on the final two weekends of January, was a brand new, four-night-only performance featuring free and ticketed concerts. Local musicians Jordan Montgomery, Chandra Rhyme, and DJ pvkvsv kicked off the Soul Stage events, with performances by neo-soul singer/songwriter Sierra Sellers and New Kensington-based Cam Chamber. Other performers in the series included producer and DJ Buscrate, funk and alt-R&B band Mani Bahia & The Mob, burgeoning Pittsburgh-based R&B talent Jrouz3, and DJ Arie Cole.
Break-out Pittsburgh artist Benji was also a highlight, while DJ Big Phill, Selecta, and Blakk Steel concluded the Soul Stage Series during a UNION party, a collection of the best DJs in the city on stage simultaneously.
“The Soul Stage music line up/series came together quickly as the programming division of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is working creatively to bring regular music happenings back,” said Diana Roth, Cultural Trust Senior Communications Manager, in a press release.
And the live music will continue.
The Cultural Trust recently announced the return of its in-person BNY Mellon Presents JazzLive at the Backstage Bar, from February through March. Previously a year-round live jazz series presented at the Cabaret at Theater Square’s Backstage Bar and Katz Plaza at the start of the pandemic, the programming shortly moved online as a free online video series under the name JazzLive @Home. Then in summer 2021, the Trust took advantage of the warm weather and open-air opportunities, turning to the Allegheny Overlook to celebrate another season of free jazz.
2022’s BNY Mellon Presents JazzLive version began on Feb. 1 with Roger Humphries + RH Factor and will continue every Tuesday night until Lynn Speakman Quintet’s March 29 set. Upcoming performances include Reggie Watkins Quartet, Thomas Wendt Quartet, Dwayne Dolphin, Anita Levels and SoulVation, Deanna Witkowski Trio, Kenia, and Ava Menna Trio.
It’s been quite some time since the city has seen so many Pittsburgh artists in one place, and it holds hope for the future of the local live music scene.
BNY Mellon Presents JazzLive
. 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays through March 29. Backstage Bar at Theater Square. 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. trustarts.org