From extreme adventure films and Japanese anime, to beer mania and Jewish cinema, April has arrived to revive your mind, body, soul and palate.
1. PIX: Pittsburgh Indie Comix Exposition at 10 S. 19th Street: April 2
Pittsburgh is home to numerous noteworthy and emerging comic book artists and cartoonists as well as a museum dedicated to the art forms. PIX serves as a creative convergence for Pittsburgh’s local community and its connections to an international scene. The free event is a must-see, one-stop-shop for makers, producers, publishers and fans alike. Setting up shop on the South Side, the region’s first-of-its-kind expo of creator-owned, self-published, small press and handmade comics is the brainchild of Copacetic Comics Company owner Bill Boichel, co-presented by Pittsburgh’s own ToonSeum . PIX-goers can peruse and purchase works from 50-plus exhibitors, hear artist presentations, attend creator panels and more. This year’s lineup of literati features everyone from Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith and author Derf Backderf, to RAW alum Kaz and Blammo creator Noah Van Sciver. You can even channel your inner cartoonist at workshops led by artists Frank Santoro and Juan Fernandez offered concurrently at Carnegie Library’s South Side Branch.
2. Banff Mountain Film Festival at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall: April 2 & 3
If you can’t be snowboarding or propelling down a steep peak, then the next best thing is this high-octane showcase of 17 top new titles in action, environmental and adventure filmmaking. Adrenaline, extreme sports and cinematic wizardry collide on the big screen, when this one-of-a-kind film tour rolls into cozy Homestead to celebrate its 41st anniversary and its 14th year in the Burgh. Cling to the edge of your seat as you as you embark on exhilarating expeditions to exotic landscapes, experience remote cultures and leave inspired to embrace the sheer power and beauty of the outdoors. See Natasha Brooks swim naked in the frigid mountain lakes of Wales, watch pro kayaker Rafa Ortiz paddle over deadly Niagara Falls and follow four courageous men and 16 wild mustangs on a 5,000 kilometer trek from Mexico to Canada. Ready to exhale? Purchase tickets now before they sell out.
3. Jazz Appreciation Month: April 5—26
Adding a Pittsburgh flair to national Jazz Appreciation Month (dubbed JAM), multiple Cultural District venues are hosting concerts, jam sessions and special appearances by established and emerging vocalists, instrumentalists and bandleaders. If you’re eagerly awaiting the JazzLive International Festival in June, this hot series is a great first course. Don’t miss the kickoff concert when jazz powerhouses team up to present “4 Generations of Miles” at Cabaret at Theater Square. Witness history in the making when award-winning drummer Jimmy Cobb teams up with Grammy-nominated guitarist Mike Stern, bassist extraordinaire Buster Williams, and alto sax giant Sonny Fortune. It will be hard to sit still during this eclectic homage to Miles’ profound legacy. The series continues April 9 at the August Wilson Center, where soulful singer Maysa will woo audiences with her smooth jazz stylings and impressive vocal range. On April 12, Grammy-winning saxophonist Gary Bartz will heat things up at Cabaret. Jazz Month culminates on April 26, when Grammy Award-winning Jesus “Chuchito” Valdes will dazzle crowds with the Latin jazz sounds of his talented trio. View all JAM events.
4. Tekko at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: April 7—10
Move over Furries, Tekko‘s in town. April will bloom with anime when this leading Japanese pop culture convention sets up shop downtown. Presented by the Pittsburgh Japanese Culture Society, Tekko bustles with fashion shows, gaming, dance contests, 150 vendors, cosplay, educational workshops, panel discussions and more—all creating an immersive and welcoming environment. Bigger than ever, Tekko’s 14th edition boasts lots of new twists and expanded offerings. Head into The Escape Room—if you dare—to compete in themed environments decked out with robots, ninjas and alchemy. Next, check out all of the action via the new live streaming TeamTekko TV. Featured presenters include L.A.-based actor Matt Mercer and voice actors Marisha Ray, Chris Patton and Austin Tindle. Pop culture figures will abound at Tekko, including fashion models Misako Aoki and Lynda Leung, Japanese rock band, Back-On, and Tokyo-based DJ Bass. For those curious, the event’s original moniker, Tekkoshocon, blends the Japanese colloquialism meaning “steel mill” with the suffix for “con.” Even Mayor Peduto is getting in on the fun, proclaiming “Tekko 2016 Week” in Pittsburgh.
5. JFilm Festival: April 7-17
Featuring 21 Pittsburgh premieres from 9 countries, 15 special guests and 11 days of programming, the 23rd annual JFilm Festival is your hot ticket for independent and foreign cinema. Spanning award-winning documentaries, dramas, narratives and comedies, films are augmented by sessions with visiting filmmakers, producers and artists, receptions, “Film Schmooze” discussions and a short film competition. The diverse festival explores and celebrates Jewish culture, independent filmmaking and cultural tolerance. JFILM kicks off with a documentary about one of the most prolific figures in 20th-century television. From Archie Bunker to George Jefferson, he created iconic characters and hit sitcoms, and now directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady turn their lens to Norman Lear himself. A Sundance favorite, Just Another Version Of You pairs firsthand accounts from the 94-year-old producer and activist with insights from George Clooney, Amy Poehler and Rob Reiner. Not to miss is JFILM’s closing night film, A Tale of Love and Darkness, when Natalie Portman makes her writing and directing debut in a dazzling adaptation of the celebrated 2002 memoir by Israeli author Amos Oz. View a schedule and purchase tickets.
6. Bridal Revival at the Hotel Monaco: April 8
Say yes to the dress—again. This time around, without the exorbitant costs and guest list anxiety. If you’re one of the countless brides who looked longingly in the mirror asking: “But will I ever wear it again?” then this event is for you. The brainchild of Glitter & Grit bridal boutique, the first-of-its-kind Pittsburgh event invites one and all to dig out and reimagine those gowns—wedding, bridesmaid, prom and formal alike. A downtown Hotel Monaco, Revivalists will be treated to a jitters-free evening complete with hair and makeup touch-ups by Hannah Conard Beauty Collective, party stations, signature cocktails and light bites, music by DJ Chaz and plenty of dancing. Brides can make DIY floral jewelry with Mt. Lebanon Floral, pop into The Farmers Daughter photo booth, add to Paint Monkey’s “Community Canvas,” and participate in restyling contests judged by Style Social. You’ll rock that frock for a great cause, because all proceeds will be donated to Children’s Hospital. You can even donate your dress on-site to Brides for a Cause and Project Prom. The $100 price tag makes this one wedding that won’t break the bank. The Monaco is even offering discounted rates for attendees wanting to make a night of it.
7. Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week: April 15—24
We agree with NEXTpittsburgh‘s own Eat.Drink.Do editor Drew Cranisky when he encourages springtime beer drinking. The best place to tap into new brews on the horizon is at Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week’s epic fifth anniversary. In January, Saveur called Pittsburgh a “beer and spirits destination,” and these 10 fully tapped days are your chance to find out why. The hoppy happening overflows with a staggering menu of beer release bashes, IPA challenges, tap takeovers, tastings, brewery tours and more. There are hundreds of creatively designed beer-themed events. Sample Guinness cupcakes, beer-washed cheeses and milkshakes made with Full Pint’s new Rye Rebellion Stout. Chow down at the first-ever “Beer and Soup Pairing,” drink for charity at “Cans for a Cause” and learn new recipes at “Baking with Booze” workshops. Thirsty yet? View a calendar of events.
8. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents Alec’s Playlist at Heinz Hall: April 16
Whether you love him best as Jack Donaghy or Jack Ryan, fans of Alec Baldwin shouldn’t miss this unique one-night-only concert experience. He’s nabbed multiple Emmys, Golden Globes and an Oscar nomination, has his own talk show and is a columnist for HuffPo—but what’s on Alec’s playlist? Find out when the award-winning actor, director and producer—who is also an outspoken supporter of the arts—teams up with PSO Maestro Manfred Honeck to share his favorite performances and moments in music. Audiences will discover how and why classical music is so significant to him, and which musical pieces have impacted his own life, as Baldwin hosts and co-curates the intimate evening. Expected on Baldwin’s uplifting playlist are selections by iconic and innovative composers, such as Beethoven, Berlioz, Stravinsky and Mahler. Underscoring Baldwin’s interest in passing on his passion with new generations of classical music fans, the actor has generously donated tickets for youth and Pittsburgh Promise students. Purchase tickets.
9. Prevention Point Pittsburgh’s 20th anniversary at the Ace Hotel: April 16
Prevention Point Pittsburgh‘s (PPP) beginnings date back to 1995, when James Crow, Caroline Acker and dedicated volunteers began providing needle exchange services in the Hill District to prevent the spread of injection-related blood-borne disease. Fast-forward two decades and the grassroots nonprofit now operates three county-authorized needle exchange sites and provides a host of critical prevention services to 5,000 injection drug users. Help the local org celebrate 20 years of life-saving work—and hit the dance floor in the newly opened Ace Hotel gym—at PPP’s first large-scale benefit bash. The night kicks off at 7 p.m. with a reception hosted by Tony Silvestri and Mike Sutherland honoring PPP’s co-founders, where attendees will be treated to a private concert by Pittsburgh’s favorite neo-Americana band, The Beagle Brothers and delish hor d’oeuvres crafted by the Whitfield. At 10 p.m., PPP turns it up a notch with a dance party featuring the D.C.-based DJ collective The NeedlExchange. Proceeds will support PPP’s work preventing infection transmission and overdose fatalities, and providing comprehensive case management services and counseling, health education, overdose prevention, free screenings, and more. PPP is also expected to announce the launch of a campaign to secure a permanent facility. Buy tickets.
10. FULLTIME Festival: April 20–24
Crowdsourcing is not just for the internet anymore. One of Pittsburgh’s newest festivals, FULLTIME draws on the innovative models of open- and crowdsourced content to showcase independent Pittsburgh-based artists, designers and small businesses. A five-day convergence of hard working people, creative enterprise and entrepreneurialism, the citywide celebration takes you behind-the-scenes to experience artistic projects taking root. Designer Discard will present a yard sale featuring handmade printed matter and vintage collectibles, while Row House Cinema is hosting a Monster Movie Fest curated by Alternate Histories. The public can also meet Lawrenceville-based makers during studio tours and pop-up shops at Sapling Press, Bootstrap Design, Garbella and Moop. At “Legalize Eating,” Legume’s chef Trevett Hooper will host a dinner highlighting food politics at the home of artist Kim Fox of Workerbird. Additional highlights include the Troika Skate competition, Commonwealth Press Beer Barge and In Bed By Ten dance party at Carnegie Museum of Art. Music fans won’t want to miss the new Open Book series kicking off at East End Book Exchange, where singer-songwriter Brooke Annibale will perform live and discuss her career and creative process. New events are coming soon, so check the festival website for details.
11. Pittsburgh Earth Day: April 21–24
April is a time of renewal, and what better way to recharge your karmic batteries than Earth Day? Thanks to Pittsburgh Earth Day‘s Steel to Sustainable series, you’ve got not one, but four, great days to do so. Spanning multiple locations with many free events, the citywide celebration showcases the region’s rich steel history, cutting-edge eco-innovations and goals for an even more sustainable future. The green scene kicks off April 21st with the Ecolution fashion show and cocktail soiree at the Fairmont. See how recycled and reused materials are transformed into haute couture with a conscience as local designers present runway-ready wares. On April 22nd, fuel up on local grub at the solar powered Food Truck Festival, enjoy live music by Molly Alphabet, the Armadillos and Beagle Brothers in Mellon Square and peruse earth-friendly products and services in Market Square. On Friday night, don’t miss the all-ages “Art and Local Showcase” at the convention center. On April 23rd, head to Carrie Furnace for a festival featuring Soundwaves Steel Band, Colonel Eagleburgers HighStepping Goodtime Band, Daily Grind, food trucks, craft brews, and the Hard Hat Art Project. Cap it all off at the TEDxPittsburgh Sunday brunch to hear inspiring talks exploring sustainability. View all Earth Day events.
12. Art All Night at Arsenal Terminal: April 23 & 24
The last Saturday of April is synonymous with Art All Night. Rolling into a new home wearing their staunchly populist motto “No Fee, No Jury, No Censorship” on their sleeve, the 19th annual Art All Night is setting up shop at Lawrenceville’s Arsenal Terminal. This means that anyone can submit one work of art to be featured and for sale in a free public exhibition. Always refreshing and unexpected, the event pairs work by professional fine artists alongside pieces created by teens, teachers and grandparents. What hatched in 1998 with 101 artworks and 200 all-nighters is now a cult showcase with 850 artists and 8,000 attendees. You’ve got no excuse to skip this celebration since it runs from 4 p.m. on Saturday until 2 p.m. on Sunday—you can pre-game your evening, swing by in the witching hour, or gather the kids for the family-friendly portion. While perusing massive amounts art, attendees can check out live music and performances and participate in hands-on activities. Art All Night is heroically run by hundreds of dedicated volunteers, so if you’re inspired to help, sign up here. Have artwork to show? Go here to submit your work. A catalyst for community development, Art All Night also spotlights Lawrenceville’s unique neighborhood assets and empowers makers of all ages and backgrounds.
Check out more events every week in NEXTpittsburgh, including these coming up in April:
After Hours: London Calling at Carnegie Library’s Main Branch: April 1
Dreams of Hope’s Absolute Disco fundraiser at PPG Wintergarden: April 2
Out of Hand at Society for Contemporary Craft: April 2
Pittsburgh Opera’s The Barber of Seville at the Benedum, April 2, 5, 8, 10
Quantum Theatre’s The Master Builder at Nova Place: April 8 – May 1
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Le Corsaire: April 15 – 17
Opera Theater of Pittsburgh’s Great Gatsby Affair at the Pittsburgh Golf Club: April 16
barebones productions’ One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the New Hazlett Theater: April 21 – May 7
Pittsburgh Rock ‘N Roll Legends Awards at Stage AE: April 28
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