Short List: Week of September 9 - 16 | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: Week of September 9 - 16

Short List: Week of September 9 - 16
Courtesy of John Colombo

Perhaps Pittsburgh didn't know it needed a chamber-opera company specializing in contemporary one-acts, but the Microscopic Opera landed with a bang this past March. Its debut program, with the comic "The Proposal" and the tragic "To Hell & Back," entertained and stunned, respectively. And because there actually are more contemporary, one-act chamber operas out there, Microscopic is back with a bigger show featuring two pieces making their premieres as fully staged productions. Jonathan N. Kupper's "The Monkey's Paw" is based on W.W. Jacobs' famed gothic horror tale about being careful what you wish for (especially when you wish upon a magical primate's lunch-hook). Katarzyna Brochocka's "Happy Garden of Life," meanwhile, is based on the early Kurt Vonnegut satire "2BRNO2B," about a utopian future where death has been cured -- but each new birth must be traded for a volunteer's suicide. Both works are finalists in the 2010 Opera Vista Competition, in Houston. For Microscopic, Lisa Ann Goldsmith returns as stage director, with performers including such experienced local singers as Ray Blackwell, Daniel Teadt, Carissa Kett, Mary Beth Sederberg and Jeffrey Gross. This time, though, co-artistic director Andres Cladera will conduct not a solo pianist (as in March) but a small orchestra of 10 or 11 pieces for each work. The music is diverse enough to warrant it: Co-artistic director Erica Olden describes the "Monkey's Paw" score as "neo-romantic," while "Happy Garden" is sung to an atonal score. The venue, appropriately intimate and arty, is empty retail space in the East Liberty complex that houses Borders. Bill O'Driscoll Fri., Sept. 10-19. East Side Shopping Center, Baum near Highland, East Liberty. $20-35.


Thu., Sept. 9 -- Music

For African music that's a bit more authentic than Shakira's World Cup song, Sierra Leone's Refugee Allstars will play the Rex Theater tonight. The band first formed outside its home country in a refugee camp in Guinea. American filmmakers Zach Niles and Banker White followed the band for three years and turned their story into a documentary, which has helped take the band from obscurity to the heart of American pop culture, including appearances on Oprah and playing Bonaroo. Kelsey Shea 7 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $15.50. 21 and over, unless accompanied by a parent. 412-381-6811 or


Thu., Sept. 9 -- Rock

There's not a lot that's "garage" about Garaj Mahal, but the jazz-jam-fusion band does have the Eastern flair that's implied by the other half of its name. Somewhere between funk, pentatonic jams and the kind of smooth jazz you might hear on the Weather Channel, the band, headed up by virtuoso guitarist Fareed Haque, showcases immense chops and a propensity for polyrhythms. It appears tonight supporting its latest CD, More Mr. Nice Guy, at The Hideout, in South Oakland. With Ras Prophet. Andy Mulkerin 7 p.m. 45 Bates St. $15. 412-969-3832 or


Thu., Sept. 9 -- Acoustic

Often acoustic, sometimes electric. Sometimes classical, other times pop. California Guitar Trio plays a wide range of tunes, with the common denominator simply being the guitar. The members -- Bert Lams, from Belgium; Hideyo Moriya, from Japan; and Paul Richards, from Salt Lake City -- are Robert Fripp disciples and guitar experts with a sense of humor. Classical versions of popular songs and humorous versions of classics are typical; the trio appears tonight at Cefalo's with Dave "Stickman" Brosky opening. AM 8 p.m. 428 Washington Ave., Carnegie. $20. 421-276-6600


Short List: Week of September 9 - 16
Courtesy of Travis Roozee
"Maria" (detail), Seth Papac

Fri., Sept. 10 -- Art

The DIY movement is about more than just, well, doing it yourself. Emerging from the need for a low-cost lifestyle in the '50s, DIY has since found its footing among a youthful audience engaged with politics, environmentalism, art and community. DIY: A Revolution in Handicrafts, a new exhibit at the Society for Contemporary Crafts, presents works by 15 artists redefining the producer/consumer relationship. Works on display combine ceramics, textiles, jewelry and found objects, and define this growing arts scene. Jenelle Pifer 5:30–8 p.m. Continues through March 26. 2100 Smallman St., Strip District. Donation requested. 412-261-7003 or


Short List: Week of September 9 - 16
Max Vanka

Fri., Sept. 10 -- Art

Religion is the opiate of the masses? Not at Millvale's St. Nicholas Church, where the murals of Maxo Vanka offer a passionate denunciation of war and the excesses of capitalism. Since their completion before World War II, the Mexican mural-style paintings have attracted considerable notice -- and now Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is offering another look at the Croatian-born artist. Through November, it will exhibit paintings and works on paper: Vanka's impressions of life in Depression-era America, as well as preparatory work for the murals themselves. Paintings by Vanka's great-granddaughter, Marissa Halderman, will also be on display. Chris Potter Opening reception from 5:30-8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 7. 6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside. $5 donation. 412-361-0873 or


Fri., Sept. 10 -- Rock

Some bands stick to what they know, and after two albums, Austin-based The Black Angels are clinging to psychedelic rock like their gurus and tie-dyed T-shirts depended on it. Much of the band's music sounds like an unpolished remake of Sgt. Pepper, sitars and all, but with heavier, droning electric guitars. The Black Angels' newest album, Phosphene Dream, will be released four days after tonight's show at Diesel; Fillmore Drive opens. KS 7 p.m. 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. $12 ($15 day of show). 412-431-8800 or


Fri., Sept. 10 -- Film

It's the fourth annual Drive-In Super Monster-Rama, at the Riverside Drive-In. Tonight and tomorrow night, catch a full evening's worth of horror and sci-fi classics, on 35 mm. Tonight's slate of four films starts off silly with Comedy of Terrors and ends tragically with The Incredible Melting Man. Saturday is all British horror, including two Frankenstein features from Hammer Studios. And for folks who aren't afraid of the beasties, camping is available on site, for an additional charge. Al Hoff Movies start at dusk. Route 66N, Vandergrift. $10 per night. 724-568-1250 or


Sat., Sept. 11 -- Book

V.I. Warshawski, one of the most heralded female private eyes in crime fiction, is at it again. Body Work, Sara Paretsky's 14th book featuring this complex leading lady, confronts issues of war, sexuality and prejudice. Warshawski is hired to clear the name of an Iraqi war vet arrested for the murder of a local artist, and the work spans the Chicago underground-art scene to the frontline in Iraq.  Paretsky appears for a reading and signing at the Oakmont Carnegie Library, sponsored by Mystery Lovers Bookshop. JP 1 p.m. 700 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. $5. 1-888-800-6078 or


Short List: Week of September 9 - 16
"Sorcerer's Village," Romare Bearden

Sat., Sept. 11 -- Art

The August Wilson Center jumps into the art scene with its first commissioned exhibit, In My Father's House. It's a mixed-media presentation of the objects collected, and techniques used, by African Americans to preserve their culture. To emphasize the exhibit's personal nature -- this is about family, memory, individual hopes within a larger community -- the artwork (from quilts and photographs to paintings and new media) have been set up in the rooms of a "house." Come home for a visit. AH 11a.m.-6p.m. 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free. 412-258-2700 or


Sat., Sept. 11 -- Music

If it's the second weekend in September, it must be City of Asylum/Pittsburgh's outdoor Jazz-Poetry concert. And if it's Jazz-Poetry, it must be Oliver Lake, the composer and saxophonist who, for the first time, visits with his 17-piece Oliver Lake Big Band to play a full concert. But this joyful annual free show's trademark is collaborations between the musicians and poets, who tonight include Pulitzer-winner Yusef Komunyakaa and Khet Mar, City of Asylum's exiled writer-in-residence. Also new: The concert is followed by a dance party, with tunes by DJ Soy Sos. Bill O'Driscoll Concert: 7:30 p.m. Dance party: 9:30-11 p.m. 500 Sampsonia Way, North Side. (Rain location: New Hazlett Theater, North Side). Free. 412-321-2190


Mon., Sept. 13 -- Rock

Mainstream metal band Deftones perform tonight at Club Zoo. A staple on the charts through the mid- and late-'90s, the band intermixes breathy vocals and slow intros with loud, intense rock refrains, balancing popular appeal and metal roots. After canceling the release of 2009's Eros, the band released its sixth album, Diamond Eyes, this spring. KS 7 p.m. 1630 Smallman St., Strip District. $26 ($28 day of show). 412-201-1100 or


Wed., Sept. 15 -- Words

The summer brought us sporadic events from the New Yinzer crowd, but tonight commences the online magazine's annual TNY Presents ... series, which has become a standard-bearer for local and innovative poets, fictioneers, non-fiction writers and musicians. Tonight's season-opener features the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Brian O'Neill reading, along with other locals Nathan Kukulski, Becca Mertz, Red Bob and Lucy Goubert. Piano songwriter Heather Kropf seals the deal. AM 8 p.m. 4919 Penn Ave., Garfield. $5 or potluck dinner contribution. 412-362-0274 or


Thu., Sept. 16 -- Rock

They've swept up the feathers that fell from Lady Gaga's boa and now it's time for prog rock to invade the CONSOL Energy Center: Rush, the legendary Canadian trio, appears tonight as part of its Time Machine Tour. The holy trinity of Lee, Lifeson and Peart promise a live rendition of Moving Pictures, the band's hit-making 1981 album. Never mind the time machine -- performing a 30-year-old album should be just about on target for a Pittsburgh audience. AM 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. $42.50-95. 800-745-3000 or