Critics' Picks: May 15 - 21 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks: May 15 - 21

Local shows by John Prine and Angela Perley & the Howlin' Moons, plus The Ulysses Project interprets the Joyce book through free jazz, and the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival presents its annual production


Some books lend themselves to being made into musicals. James Joyce's Ulysses may not generally be considered to be one. But it all depends on the kind of music you're looking to set it to: Michigan-based Kirsten Carey, who studied jazz at the University of Michigan, had the right idea when she decided to put together a free-jazz suite based on the avant-garde novel. The Ulysses Project, as it's simply known, was bankrolled with a crowdfunding project and was released as an album last fall. Carey brings the show — compositions inflected with a good bit of improvisation — to Garfield Artworks tonight. Christine Hedden opens. Andy Mulkerin 8 p.m. 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. $5. All ages. 412-361-2262 or

click to enlarge John Prine at Benedum Center
Photo courtesy of Jim Shea

[FOLK] + FRI., MAY 16

John Prine came of age musically writing songs while working as a mailman in Chicago. In the early '70s, he became a hot commodity, writing songs for and performing with artists from Kris Kristofferson to Bob Dylan; Prine's biting commentary (especially, early on, dealing with the Vietnam War) is tempered with a sense of humor that helps him transform country ditties into masterpieces. After a cancer scare last year (his second), he's back on the road, and playing at the Benedum Center tonight; Austin-born country songwriter Sarah Jarosz opens. AM 8 p.m. 803 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $49.50-59.50. All ages. 412-456-6666 or


In recent years, the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival has scaled back from a multi-day fest to a single presentation each year, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. This year's featured production: Anne Frank: A Living Voice, a contemporary composition by Linda Tutas Haugen that sets Anne Frank's writings to music. Featured singer Elizabeth Shammash will be joined by the Pittsburgh School for Choral Arts and members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; the featured piece will be supplemented by compositions by Jonathan Berger, Joan Zymko and others. AM 7:30 p.m. Rodef Shalom Congregation, 4905 Fifth Ave., Oakland. $10-20. All ages.

[ROCK] + WED., MAY 21

Dealing largely in country-inflected ballads and hard rockers, Ohio's Angela Perley & the Howlin' Moons don't try to do anything too new — they just try to do something well. Perley's songs are written with a level of care that's a notch above a lot of other country-rock types, and the band's performances have gained some renown around Ohio and beyond. The band plays tonight at Rock 'n' Bowl, at Arsenal Bowling Lanes, tonight. AM 9 p.m. 212 44th St., Lawrenceville. $8 includes bowling. 412-683-5992 or

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