Critics' Picks, Dec. 18-24 | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks, Dec. 18-24

Local shows by Bubba Sparxxx and Chicago Afrobeat Project, plus hometown shows for Joe Grushecky and White Wives

click to enlarge White Wives, at the shop
Photo courtesy of Nicole C. Kibert

[PUNK] + THU., DEC. 18

It's been quite a while since we've heard from White Wives, but rumors of the band's demise were apparently greatly exaggerated. The sort-of-supergroup headed up by Anti-Flag's Chris #2 and Roger Harvey (of Roger Harvey and the Wild Life) is back for a short Northeast tour. Tonight's hometown show acts as a release show for the band's 7-inch, which has been out for a year. Joining the band at The Shop tonight: Mace Ballard, Grand Piano and The Homeless Gospel Choir. Andy Mulkerin 7 p.m. 4314 Main St., Bloomfield. $5-7. All ages.


County-rap star Bubba Sparxxx broke out to an unsuspecting market with Timbaland in late 2001, and hasn't slowed down over the past decade. The face behind early-'00s classics "Ugly" and "Ms. New Booty" has introduced a heavier country voice on his latest 2014 release, Made on McCosh Mill Road. The change seems a better fit than the past club hits, perhaps because Sparxxx, born Warren Anderson Mathis, hails from the backwoods of Georgia. You can hear old and new sounds tonight at Altar Bar with Diamond State Empire, Bigler Bros. and Jordan York. Samantha Ward 7 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $16-18. All ages. 412-206-9719 or

[ROCK] + FRI., DEC. 19

Joe Grushecky is an Iron City native and one of those anomalous rock stars who never quite grabbed the big spotlight. Grushecky and his band, The Houserockers, released their debut album in 1979 on MCA Records, and despite critical favor from Rolling Stone and Billboard, never received widespread attention. Later in its career, the band was spruced up by some contributions from Grushecky's longtime friend Bruce Springsteen; the two have played quite a few shows together, both in Pittsburgh and in New Jersey. Now on tour supporting his most recent album, Somewhere East of Eden, Grushecky is rocking harder than ever. Joining the band at this show will be Ed Manion, of the E Street Horns; could Bruce make an appearance too? SW 9 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $12. 412-431-4950 or


Earlier this year, the Chicago Afrobeat Project pulled through town with none other than legendary Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen in tow. That was only a short tour, but the band is back (without Allen this time) in a more intimate setting, at Thunderbird Café tonight. The longtime Afrobeat interpreters have played with numerous Kuti affiliates and other well-known rockers; tonight, they're joined by Afroheat, the DJ duo of locals Vex and SMI. AM 9 p.m. 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $12-15. 412-682-0177 or