Critics’ Picks, Sept. 24-30 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics’ Picks, Sept. 24-30

Shows by Big Smo, Chip DiMonick, Diet Cig, Yo La Tengo and Shemekia Copeland


You’ve heard him on the radio, and perhaps even seen him on his A&E television series, where he and his family work hard on the family farm in Tennessee. John Smith, a.k.a. Big Smo, grew up in the South as a fan of hip hop, rock and country music; he now blends all three into what has been dubbed “Hick Hop.” Big Smo brings his big sound and bigger personality to the Altar Bar for an all ages show tonight with Michael Christopher and Mad Dog RodeoTroy Michael 7 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $20-23.  All ages. 412-206-9719 or

Photo courtesy of Sharon Dominick Photography
Chip DiMonick

[ROCK] + FRI., SEPT. 25

Local hard-rock group Chip DiMonick — whose recent record, Uncaged, is full of hair-metal-esque charisma — is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the band’s first show, tonight at the Smiling Moose. The aptly named Decade of DiMonick concert and party will feature a variety of supporting acts, including The Cathy Stewart Band, Fatality Risen, the YJJ’s and Kevin Belonzi. Why the big party? Titular lead singer and guitarist Chip DiMonick explains:  ”Leaving our slug-like trail all over the Pittsburgh music scene for ten years feels like a big deal.” Andrew Woehrel 8:30 p.m.1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $5-6.  412-431-4668 or

click to enlarge Diet Cig - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDREW PICCONE
Photo courtesy of Andrew Piccone
Diet Cig


The New Paltz, N.Y., twee-pop outfit Diet Cig is a very young and precious band. Guitarist and vocalist Alex Luciano hadn’t ever played an electric guitar before she first practiced with drummer Noah Bowman. Diet Cig has a playful and ramshackle sound that owes a bit to Beat Happening, or — for a more current reference point — could be a pared-down version of Swearin’. Catch Diet Cig tonight at Spirit, with opening acts Cotopaxi and Yrs Sun. AW 9:30 p.m. 242 51st St., Lawrenceville. $8-10. 412-586-4441 or


You may have heard of Hoboken, NJ’s indie-rock darlings Yo La Tengo, often a favorite of rock critics, pop-music nerds and other unsightly characters. Tonight, the band will play an intimate acoustic set at Mr. Small’s Theatre, which is sure to include both original songs and cover material. YLT has been at it for over 30 years now, which is longer than some rock stars’ entire lives, so you know the band has some tricks up its collective sleeve. Guitarist Dave Schramm opens. AW 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $22-25. 412-821-4447 or

[BLUES]  + WED., SEPT. 30

In the final years of his life, Texas blues guitarist Johnny Copeland toured with his 16-year-old daughter, Shemekia, as his opening act. Eighteen years after Johnny’s death, Shemekia Copeland has become a star in the blues world, and she’s performed with the biggest names in the business, including B.B. King (R.I.P.), Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt and more. She’s even sung with Mick Jagger at the White House for the Obamas. Tonight you can see her at Club Café, with support from the Accelerators.  AW 8 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $25.  412-431-4950 or 

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