Critics’ Picks, Aug. 27- Sept. 2 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics’ Picks, Aug. 27- Sept. 2 

Concerts by the Honey Island Swamp Band, Jake Shimabukuro, Taj Mahal and Hivelords

click to enlarge Honey Island Swamp Band - PHOTO COURTESY OF ZACK SMITH
  • Photo courtesy of Zack Smith
  • Honey Island Swamp Band


It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, and lately there’s been no shortage of think pieces on how the city has progressed over the past decade. The 10-year mark is also significant for the Honey Island Swamp Band, because the band’s New Orleans-based members met, coincidentally, in San Francisco while staying with various friends in the aftermath of the storm. There, they decided to start their own project, incorporating Delta blues, soul and roots rock — for comparison, The Band comes readily to mind — and soon they had a weekly gig at San Fran’s Boom Boom Room. The group is back in NOLA, but you can see it at Pittsburgh Winery tonight. Margaret Welsh 9 p.m. 2815 Penn Ave., Strip District. $15-20. 412-566-1000 or

click to enlarge Jake Shimabukuro - PHOTO COURTESY OF EONE MUSIC
  • Photo courtesy of eOne Music
  • Jake Shimabukuro

[POP] + FRI., AUG. 28

The ukulele is a little like the recorder in that most people can coax some sort of passable ditty out of it. But Jake Shimabukuro is something different: a virtuoso who can make the uke sound like something much more complicated than the four-stringed apparatus that it is. When he was a teen growing up in Hawaii, his friends marveled at his ability to incorporate electric-guitar riffs and classical phrases, but it was a viral video of Shimabukuro playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that made him a sensation. Check him out tonight at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, and don’t be surprised if you’re inspired to pick up a ukulele of your own. MW 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. $29-59. 412-368-5225 or

[METAL] + SAT. AUG. 29

Those of you following along at home know of my deep love for Philadelphia’s Hivelords. It started several years ago when, thanks to van trouble, the band arrived hours late to its Pittsburgh show. In spite of — or perhaps thanks to — the members’ horrible moods, they proceeded to wow the tiny remaining audience with a cutting set of sludgy, atmospheric, blackened psychedelia. Since then, the band has undergone a couple of lineup changes, but its newest release, Tapered Limbs of a Human Star, finds Hivelords — appearing tonight at House of the Low Voice — at its doomy, hypnotic best. Clay Davis, from Maryland, and Sloths, from Oregon, will also play, along with locals Dendritic Arbor, edhochuli and Night Vapor. MW 8 p.m. 228 39th St., Lawrenceville. $10. Email for information. 

[BLUES] + SUN., AUG. 30

Taj Mahal is a grandiose title, but the 73-year-old multi-instrumentalist — who says he adopted the alias after having instructive dreams about Ghandi — has done a valiant job of living up to the name’s legendary connotations (and yes, despite recent Internet death rumors, he is alive and well). Always a man with impeccable style, both musically and sartorially, he made the blues his own, bringing in elements of reggae and calypso, as well as Caribbean and West African roots music. See the man himself, 50 years into his career, when he appears with John Hiatt & the Combo at the Palace Theatre tonight. MW 7:30 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. $49-69. 724-836-8000 or


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