Critics' Picks: Sept 1 - 4 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks: Sept 1 - 4

Local shows by Hotel Lights, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Everclear, Rusted Root and Shotgun Party

click to enlarge Hotel Lights - PHOTO COURTESY OF DEBORA FRANCIS
Photo Courtesy of Debora Francis
Hotel Lights


While Darren Jessee rose to prominence on drums, he's also a pretty good songwriter: The former (and again?) Ben Folds Five drummer wrote or co-wrote some of that band's best and most memorable ("Brick," of course, and "Magic," off the Reinhold Messner album). For the past several years, he's been plying his trade as the frontman of Hotel Lights; the band's got a new album, Girl Graffiti, on Bar None, that's more in the vein of Wilco than any '90s alt rockers. Hotel Lights plays Howlers tonight; SleepyV and Big Snow Big Thaw open. Andy Mulkerin 9 p.m. 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $7. 412-682-0320 or

click to enlarge Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones


Bela Fleck is one of the world's best-known contemporary banjo players; his band, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, combines bluegrass and jazz fusion into a highly danceable and potent mix. The original lineup, rounded out by virtuosos (Victor Wooten; Wooten's brother, who goes by "Future Man"; harmonica player Howard Levy), reunited last year and is playing Pittsburgh tonight for the first time since the '90s. Also on the bill: Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers. Let's hope the all-star jam isn't "Mandolin Rain." AM 7 p.m. Trib Total Media Amphitheatre, Station Square. $29-54. All ages. 800-745-3000 or


['90S ROCK] + SAT., SEPT. 3

Those of you not too busy getting amped for football season may be spending this weekend enjoying the tail end of summer. If that's the case, both of the county's major concert-hosting parks have treats for you. Tonight at South Park, find the opening night of the South Park Rib & Wing Challenge, featuring Everclear. Sunday night's headliner is War, and Monday night features Molly Hatchet. Over at Hartwood Acres, Sunday night is all Rusted Root; the Pittsburgh band that could is playing to benefit the county's Department of Human Services and Child and Youth Services. AM South Park Rib & Wing Challenge: 1 p.m. Saturday, continues through Sunday. $10 per day. All ages.  Buffalo Drive, South Park. 412-405-9631 or Rusted Root: 5 p.m., Sun. Sept. 4. Hartwood Acres, Middle Rd., Hampton. $20 donation per car. 412-767-9200



Austin-based country-and-western-swing band Shotgun Party's 2010 release Mean Old Way is a rarity: a showcase of original, clever lyric-writing in the context of a campy, retro musical idiom. (On lead track "Operator," for example, singer Jenny Parrot slyly puns on the title, addressing a telephone operator and an operating-room surgeon alternately, and the band spells out the title word in the chorus, only to flub the spelling.) So it came as a sad surprise that the three-piece is calling it quits this year -- but not before one last jaunt around the country. The band plays Thunderbird Café tonight in what's sure to be a roarin' honky-tonk good time. With The Armadillos, The Beagle Brothers, Elliott Sussman. AM 8 p.m. 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $6. 412-682-0177 or

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