Short List: Week of August 5 - 12 | Featured Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: Week of August 5 - 12

Courtesy of Rob de la Cretaz

How to measure the growth of bicycling here in advance of the sixth annual BikeFest? One way is BikePGH membership: It's more than 1,200, up about 400 from what the advocacy group claimed last year. Anecdotally, meanwhile, there are simply more two-wheelers wheeling around. "I've seen 30 to 40 cyclists go past the office today," Scott Bricker, Lawrenceville-based BikePGH's executive director, said last week. "It's just constant, all day long." Moreover, Pittsburgh bike-consciousness events now have spin-offs. First came Critical Mass, that big monthly group street ride. Now come the Flock of Cycles events, launched by Nick Drombosky, a 23-year-old Pitt grad and entrepreneur. Last year, Drombosky offered Midnight Mass, a first-Fridays ride. Like Critical Mass, it starts at Dippy the dinosaur, in Oakland. But this insomniac-friendly outing strives not to take over city streets but to educate cyclists about co-existing with motorists. Drombosky leads up to 30 bikers on fast-paced, improvised night-time routes. He also leads the slower-paced Flock All Night (10 p.m. on second Fridays) and the Flock of Cycles Party Ride (pictured; second-to-last Fridays). And now, the Fri., Aug. 6, Midnight Mass and the Aug. 13 Flock All Night are two of the new events at the 10-day BikeFest. The festival features some 60 independently organized events under the umbrella of BikePGH, whose projects include advocating new bike lanes and creating the indispensable Pittsburgh Bike Map. As usual, the fest includes short rides and long rides (and very long rides); casual rides and races; mountain-biking for beginners and experts; pick-up bike polo; rides for kids; and themed rides. Highlights include BikePGH's own Aug. 6 fundraising blast at Pittsburgh Opera's Strip District headquarters, which comes in both VIP ($100) and main-event ($15-35) versions. New features include Aug. 7's BikeFest edition of the I Made It! Market, offering locally handmade, bike-themed arts and crafts -- plus a bike-swap -- at Lawrenceville's Leslie Park Pool. There's also the Victoriana-infused Sunday Seersucker Saunter Spectacular (Aug. 8); a BikeFest Pool Tour of Citiparks pools (with swimming, Aug. 8); and Aug. 12's BikeFest edition of the nationally touring Disposable Film Festival, which features short films made on non-professional devices like cell phones. Also held in the empty Leslie Park Pool, it's a "Bike-In Movie," of course, complete with bike valet. Bill O'Driscoll BikeFest 2010 runs Fri., Aug. 6-Aug. 15. Various venues. Most events are free.


click to enlarge ART BY ANNA REBEK
Art by Anna Rebek

Fri., Aug. 6 -- Art

Poisonous, a new exhibit by artist Anna Rebek, offers an intimate look at exotic organisms you might not want to get too close to otherwise. The California-based Pittsburgh native's brightly colored oil paintings portray these poisonous insects, amphibians and reptiles in natural habitats and detail their pointed stingers, silky skin and intricate camouflage. Poisonous, at 707 Penn Gallery, opens with a reception today. Jenelle Pifer 5 p.m. Show continues through Sept. 12. 707 Penn Ave., Downtown. Free. 412-471-6070 or


Fri., Aug. 6 -- Music

Last year, the Johnstown Folk Festival took a new name, reflecting its wider sample of roots music. This year, the Ameriserv Flood City Music Festival returns with a smattering of big national acts -- Los Lobos, Robert Cray Band, Galactic, Los Straitjackets -- and some of the Pittsburgh area's best, as well (Mon River Ramblers, Boca Chica, Mark Dignam). It starts today and runs through Sunday, with weekend passes and one-day tickets available. Andy Mulkerin 5:30 p.m. Festival Park, 90 Johns St., Johnstown. $5-10 (passes from $25). All ages.


Fri., Aug. 6 -- Art 

Some art crawls might shy from August. But the Penn Avenue corridor can take the heat, and so can Unblurred. This month, new art visits venues including Studio 5013, Most Wanted Fine Art and Imagebox. The Irma Freeman Center opens the group exhibition Energy: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Up on Broad Street, Schmutz Lodge hosts indie crafters Steel Town Etsy's Steel Town Handmade Trunk Show (with jewelry, clothing, toys, etc.) Look at art, or watch them make it molten, at Pittsburgh Glass Center; tango to new Argentine music at the law office of Richard J. Walters; and more. Bill O'Driscoll Most events begin by 6 p.m. Bloomfield/Friendship/Garfield. Most events free. 412-441-6147 or


Fri., Aug. 6 -- Words

Pushcart Prize-winner Barbara Hurd speaks tonight at Chatham University. The renowned essayist and nature writer (who teaches at Maryland's Frostburg State University) mixes memoir and research to cover everything from swamps to spider crabs, imagination to unfinished symphonies. In books including 2001's Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination, her poetic prose explores natural minutia and grandeur. An opening reception is followed by Hurd's lecture "What We Talk About When We Talk About Nature Writing" and a book-signing. JP 6:30 p.m. (reception) and 7:30 p.m. (talk). James Laughlin Music Hall, Chatham campus, Shadyside. Free. 412-365-1264 or


Fri., Aug. 6 -- Music

Santa Fe resident and world-traveler Johnny Alston is a native Pittsburgher and a Native American flutist. Too minimalist to be called jazz, too traditional for minimalism, his music is simple and peaceful. He transports listeners to a quiet place using a wooden Native American flute -- in some cases, as depicted in videos posted to YouTube, he does so in the middle of a bustling city. He does it tonight in his hometown, at Istanbul, the all-ages, BYOB coffeehouse space in Lawrenceville. Andy Mulkerin 7 p.m. 4130 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Free. 412-683-1623


Fri., Aug. 6 -- Rock

Chris Shiflett is best known as the lead guitarist of the Foo Fighters, and maybe for his punk side project, Jackson United. But this year Shiflett put away his distortion pedals and towering amps to pick up an acoustic guitar and reveal a poppy side that Foo fans may never have known he was hiding. With his band, The Dead Peasants, his self-titled new album is a pop-infused work of jaunty alt-country -- light on the alt. Shiflett performs tonight at Club Café with Ari Shine and local band Chet Vincent and The Big Bend. Kelsey Shea 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.). 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $10. 412-431-4950 or


Sat., Aug. 7 -- Words

If you know that a "nene" is a Hawaiian goose and that "ete" is how they say "summer" on the Seine, chances are you're a cruciverbalist -- and you ought to make haste toward Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall for the first-ever Pittsburgh Crossword Puzzle Tournament. A benefit for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, today's event involves a series of timed puzzles, with the top three finishers going to playoffs in which they complete puzzles on large grids in front of everyone. Puzzlemaking legend Will Shortz provided the puzzles for the event; if you're good enough, you can eke out a win. AM 1 p.m. (12:30 registration). 4141 Fifth Ave., Oakland. 412-395-2873 x2864 or


Sat., Aug. 7 -- Rock

If nothing else, the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival is a practical demonstration of its product's usefulness: Without sugary energy drinks, how would one survive an outdoor metal blowout that starts at 2 p.m., and features more than a dozen brutal bands? Today at the First Niagara Pavilion, catch headliners KORN, Rob Zombie, Lamb of God and Five Finger Death Punch; two additional stages will feature Hatebreed, Chimaira, Shadows Fall, Winds of Plague, Atreyu, Norma Jean, In This Moment and 3 Inches of Blood. Did we mention there's a Jägermeister stage? You're probably gonna need some of that, too. Aaron Jentzen 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. $31-55.50. 724-947-7400 or


Sun., Aug. 8 -- Country

In recent years, the country genre has been dominated by radio hits and corny gimmicks, but Brooklyn band The Sweetback Sisters are trying to reclaim its roots. Their throwback country will have you thinking about saloons and sheriffs, rather than sold-out amphitheater shows and just how much Brad Paisley sucks. They've got their holsters loaded with heartbreaking slide guitars and the sweet, appealing vocals of Zara Bode and Emily Miller, who both kind of sound like a more organic and rootsy Zooey Deschanel. They perform tonight at Thunderbird Café in Lawrenceville, with local band Cry Fire. KS 8 p.m. 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $10-12. 412-682-0177 or


Mon., Aug. 9 -- Rock

Plenty of bands have mined the spooky-gothy-Western sound -- 16 Horsepower, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, even current Pittsburgher Slim Cessna, to name a few. Murder By Death, led by broody singer-guitarist Adam Turla, is one of the next generation of such bands, sprinkling in some creepy cabaret and Poguesy pub-band breakdowns. Add Sarah Balliet's cello, plus musical saw, Cash and whiskey, and you've got a potent brew. The band opens for mewithoutYou tonight at Mr. Small's Theatre, with Buried Beds. AJ 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.). 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. All ages. $15. 412-821-4447 or


Thu., Aug. 12 -- Pinball

Experience 56 hours of pinball madness during the four-day PAPA 13 World Pinball Championship. Six levels of play invite contestants of all skill levels to participate in the world's largest and most competitive pinball standoff. Division A challenges world-class players while the Classics Division welcomes those devoted to vintage machines. Other divisions are based on age and skill level. Register in advance or at the door. Or, just watch for free and enjoy individual games at 50 cents a pop. JP 11 a.m.-midnight. Continues through Sun., Aug. 15. PAPA World Headquarters, 100 Keystone Drive, Carnegie. Free admission; $5 to compete. or

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