Powered by NEXTpittsburgh / Written by Jennifer Baron

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.


Atomic Falafel. Photo: Merav Maroody
Atomic Falafel. Photo: Merav Maroody

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.


Courtesy Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week
Courtesy Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week

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.


Courtesy Prevention Point Pittsburgh
Courtesy Prevention Point Pittsburgh

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.


Courtesy Pittsburgh Earth Day
Courtesy Pittsburgh Earth Day

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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Powered by NEXTpittsburgh / Written by Brian Conway

What is this, June? February is supposed to be a slow month for shows, but there are top-notch concerts all month long, from country to rock, hip-hop to jazz, and a lot of post-punk.

Kid Cudi. Photo courtesy the artist.
Kid Cudi. Photo courtesy the artist.

Kid Cudi

Friday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m.

Stage AE – 400 N Shore Dr.

$39.50 adv; $42 d.o.s.

Kid Cudi’s last album, Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven, was something of a head-scratcher. It wasn’t as bad as, say, Lil Wayne’s attempt at rock (at least Andre 3000 liked this one), but between all the acoustic guitar and bizarre (if hilarious) sketches of Beavis and Butt-Head tripping on mushrooms, you can see why Pitchfork started their review of the album by asking, “Is Kid Cudi serious?” Still, it’s rare when a top tier rapper comes to down, so we’re willing to overlook this misstep in hopes of a killer live show.

 Sound Scene

Sound Scene Express Best of 2015 Concert, feat. Nevada Color, The Commonheart and more.

Saturday, Feb. 6 at  9 p.m.

James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy – 422 Foreland St.


Pittsburgh doesn’t have nearly as many music blogs as it deserves. Pittpunk has been on hiatus, Hughshows is scaling back in favor of a TV show, and the guy that did Pittsburgh Music Report has some other gig now. Fortunately, Sound Scene Express is picking up the slack–and then some. From concert photos, to album reviews, interviews and more, Randy and crew has Pittsburgh’s indie rock scene on lock. This year, their annual “Best of” awards is making the leap to IRL, with live performances from Nevada Color, The Commonheart, Ballon Ride Fantasy and Chase the Monkey, hosted by Danny Rectenwald, of Bastard Bearded Irishmen.

Tuesday, February 9. 7 p.m.

Cattivo – 146 44th St.


If you’re bummed that the Explosions in the Sky tour is skipping Pittsburgh, this Caspian gig is just what you need. That’s not to say that all post-rock bands sound the same, but those signature guitar swells work best in smaller venues, like Cattivo, where you can be completely enveloped by the sonic assault. The Massachusetts sextet is touring in support of their latest album, 2015’s Dust and Disquiet. Opening is O’brother, who you might remember as openers from when Minus the Bear played Club Cafe in late 2014. Here’s a taste of what to expect from Caspian:


Protomartyr, w/ Priests, The Gotobeds

Thursday, February 11. 9:30 p.m.

Brillobox – 4104 Penn Ave.

$10 d.o.s. (No presale)

If your eardrums aren’t already blown out from Caspian and O’brother, they will be after this one. Three of the best punk and post-punk bands in the country join together at Brillobox for an early “show of the year” candidate. Pittsburgh’s The Gotobeds will set the tone by blasting through 9 or 10 songs in about 30 minutes, at which point you’ll say, oh, that’s why that major label signed them. Then, from DC, it’s Priests, only 2 EPs into their career and attracting all types of hype, thanks to frontwoman Katie Alice Greer’s snarl and stage presence. Finally, the new kings of Detroit punk, Protomartyr, with a spoken-word delivery and wit as sharp and cutting as the guitar work. There’s no presale, so get there early to snag a ticket. Doors are at 9.
Stretch & Bobbito

Saturday, February 13. 9 p.m.

Round Corner Cantina – 3720 Butler St.

$10 ($5 w/ movie screening ticket)

Source Magazine called The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show the best hip-hop radio show of all time. Airing on 89.9 WKCR, out of Columbia University, Stretch & Bobbito was where many of the best MCs of a generation first gained attention, from Nas, to Big Pun, to Jay-Z and more. The pair are touring the country in support of a new documentary, Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives, directed by “Bobbito” Garcia. Catch the movie at Row House Cinema at 7 p.m., followed by a post-screening Q+A. Then, make your way over to Round Corner Cantina for the after-party, where the duo will join local DJs on the ones and twos.

Kurt Vile

Monday, February 22. 8 p.m.

Mr. Smalls – 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.


Long before anyone really knew who Kurt Vile was, he started billing himself as “Philly’s constant hitmaker” as sort of a joke. Turns out the joke was more of a self-fulfilling prophecy. With his latest album, B’lieve I’m Goin Down, Kurt Vile is unequivocally a rock star. Vile performed lead single “Pretty Pimpin’” on The Late Show with J Mascis, then went off to perform in Europe and Australia for two months. The new album is softer than his previous album, the fuzzed-out Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze, but it has always been Vile’s lyrics – self-deprecating and tongue-in-cheek – that set the constant hitmaker apart from the pack.

Tuesday, February 23. 8 p.m.

Andy Warhol Museum – 117 Sandusky St.

$15 ($12 students/members)

From Chicago, Disappears performs dark, driving garage rock, reminiscent of Krautrock bands and Joy Division. The band will be performing two sets: The first set features their own material, including songs from their 2015 release, Irreal, and for the second set the band will perform David Bowie’s album Low, which they first recorded live at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in fall 2014. Pittsburgh native Noah Leger (formerly of the Karl Hendricks Trio) is on drums.


An Evening with Savion Glover and Jack DeJohnette

Friday, February 26. 9:30 p.m. (7 p.m. session sold out)

Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild – 1815 Metropolitan St.

$27 – $52.50

Now for something different, Jack DeJohnette, one of the best jazz drummers of all time, performs with Savion Glover, one of the most well-respected tap dancers alive. DeJohnette was the primary drummer on Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew, and he toured with Davis for a number of years before setting off on his own. The event page on the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild site promises “multigenerational phrasing of elevated frequencies that propels sound to the fourth dimension and beyond,” and a “journey of melodies extracting unprecedented and beautiful music living within two masterful souls.” Who can resist?


Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves Country & Western Rhinestone Revue

Saturday, February 27. 7:30 p.m.

Stage AE – 400 N. Shore Drive.


Sorry Carrie Underwood, but if you see just one country singer-songwriter in Pittsburgh this month, make it Kacey Musgraves. Probably the only musician to be on the cover of both Redbook and The FADER, Musgraves pens clever, classic country gems that fans of both Katy Perry and Loretta Lynn can enjoy. Her major label debut, 2013’s Same Trailer Different Park, won the Grammy for Best Country Album, and the follow-up, 2015’s Pageant Material, is nominated for the same.



Friday, February 27. 8 p.m.

Mr. Smalls – 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.


This show will be exactly one year and one week from the last time Ramble Jon Krohn visited Mr. Smalls. Since 2002, with the release of his first album, the instrumental hip-hop masterpiece Deadringer, RJD2 has never stayed complacent, remixing his musical style as often as most artists change labels. He’ll be at Smalls in support of his new album, the soul-heavy Dame Fortune, which won’t be released until March 25th. Here’s the first single off of that album, “Peace of What”:


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From Maker Faire Pittsburgh organizers, Monday Oct. 12: Makers from around the region shared their projects with curious and engaged attendees of all ages for Maker Faire Pittsburgh 2015.  Drones flew, robots activated, dances were improvised, food was cooked by the sun, books bound, electric cars zoomed about, dinosaurs walked and chocolate robots were molded.  Glass, iron, concrete and aluminum was cast and molded – and that’s just a short list of the unique and fun experiences had at the Faire.  Not to mention, a wedding proposal made (and accepted!) and a kitten adopted. Thank you to all of the makers, attendees, partners, collaborators, volunteers, staff, crew and sponsors for being a part of the Faire!

Powered by NEXTpittsburgh / Written by Deb Smit

When Maker Faire Pittsburgh unfurls its colorful banners and unpacks the bots and balloons on the North Side this Saturday and Sunday,  Oct 10-11, it will be official (as if it wasn’t already): Pittsburgh will be a fully-fledged American Maker City.

Never mind that our love affair with making predates the rest of the country as forgers of glass, steel and industrial products. Advances in technology are creating new opportunities in places like Pittsburgh, President Obama said during his visit to TechShop in Bakery Square last year, and putting manufacturing power “in the hands of anybody who’s got a good idea.”

Maker Faire Pittsburgh will be a celebration of good ideas, a high-energy carnival packed with entrepreneurial, can-do spirit. More than 200 tech tinkerers, craftspeople, designers and inventors of all ages will come together for a two-day, family-friendly festival of making. Exhibitions, hands-on workshops and performances will spread out on the grounds of the Buhl Community Park and Nova Place, an urban redevelopment project in the midst of its own remaking.

“It will be one big celebration,” says Chad Elish of Hack Pittsburgh. Elish was the force behind the first three three mini-maker faires that were held in Pittsburgh over the last five years. Those venues were smaller and quieter by comparison, he says.


“We never thought in our wildest dreams that this would grow to this size when we created it five years ago,” he says. “This is a game-changer. Pittsburgh is becoming a tech hub, a Silicon Valley of the east coast.”

Maker Faire began in the Bay Area in 2006 as a showcase of makers exploring new forms and technologies on the cutting-edge; it attracted a crowd of more than 22,000. Since then, the movement has spread across the country and around the world with events in New York City, Detroit, Rome and Paris.

This will be the first large-scale, national maker Faire to be held in Pennsylvania, says Donna Goyak who is organizing the event on behalf of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. (The Children’s Museum is producing the event under a license agreement with Maker Media, Inc., in partnership with Faros Properties, Innovation Works, the City of Pittsburgh and other partners.)

Billed as the “greatest show (and tell) on Earth,” the weekend promises an interactive mix of exhibits, workshops and performances. “We expect the audience will be a highly curious lot,” says Goyak. “The making will be highly participatory, fun and informative.”

On a late summer day in September, Goyak was out surveying the event space with Jeremy Leventhal, managing partner of Faros. “Imagine this area completely filled with makers,” she said gesturing wildly to the area around her the size of two football fields. “It will be the largest showcase of making, building and creating that Pittsburgh has ever seen.”

The faire will take place between Buhl Community Park and Nova Place, an urban redevelopment project by Faros Properties adjacent to the former Allegheny Mall. Faros is infusing new life into the vacant office building, an eyesore for 10 years, and turning it into a 33-acre global campus for high tech companies.

Over the next year, Faros plans to turn the ugly sea of asphalt into a public green space with landscaping and benches. The two office buildings will provide space for companies, a workspace for entrepreneurs, called Alloy 26 and a wellness and fitness center. Radiant Hall has opened a 7,000-square-foot art studio and exhibition space, which will be open on Maker Faire day.

This is the first of many large events at the innovation complex, says Leventhal. “We’re trying to build our own microcosm of a community into an existing community and have it become a resource for the whole area.”

The Pittsburgh Maker Faire will have a distinctly different flavor than other faires in the country, says Goyak. It will reflect the people and initiatives underway in the region. Robotics, naturally, will take center stage. There will be opportunities to try driverless vehicle technologies and STEAM learning activities.

Expect lots of university research, activities that feature educational initiatives and groundbreaking local startups.

Want to operate a Ferrari Italia toy car using hand gestures and voice control? Meet pet creatures at a robot petting zoo? Learn about drones and make and buy 3D jewelry? Join tech shop teachers and build dinosaur puppets or design a giant Spirograph? Opportunities abound through make-and-take activities that use recycled materials, vinyl cutters, electronics and more.

ore than 60 indie crafters and makers will sell their wares in an open air market located near the misting fountain in Buhl Plaza. Assemble director Nina Barbuto is organizing the market and operating an exhibit that will teach youngsters how to make LED pins in the education area, she says.

“Maker Faire Pittsburgh is about making the difference, not just about making things,” says Barbuto. “People here are empowered to change the existing, create the new and showcase and share it.”

Les Gies of TechShop has watched the maker movement gain momentum and take off through the last decade. “Our history goes hand-in-hand with the technology revolution we’re seeing in the maker movement,” he says. “The pulse of the city is powerful.”

The inaugural Maker Faire Pittsburgh happens Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 10-11 from 10 am to 5 pm. on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The event is sponsored by Chevron and Make with major support from The Grable Foundation. The event is produced by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in partnership with Faros Properties, the City of Pittsburgh, Innovation Works, Hack Pittsburgh, Assemble, Tech Shop Pittsburgh and Urban Innovation 21. To buy tickets or volunteer, click here.

This article is part of the Remake Learning initiative, a multimedia partnership between NEXTpittsburgh and WQED Multimedia, Pittsburgh Magazine and WESA.  Check out their stories on Learning Innovation in Pittsburgh.

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Bonnie Pfister

Gena, New Year's Eve, GeniaA new documentary film celebrates the work of Machete Kisumontao — a seven piece “Puerto Rican riot salsa band” that has thrilled audiences for nearly 10 years with its Afro-Latin percussion, horns and plugged instruments.

The film will be shown free of charge at the University of Pittsburgh on Friday, June 26.

The band has performed at the Latin American Caribbean Festival; at benefits for schools in Bangladesh and Ghana; and at Go Tell It On the Mountain—a benefit for Climate Ground Zero. Machete’s unique sound has awed parents and children at the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival, and other family friendly events around the city. Machete Kisumontao also plays colleges and universities in and around Pennsylvania such as CMU, PITT, W&J, AC and more… They’ve also been guests at Advance Calculus, SLB Radio, and Barrio Latino on WRCT 88.3FM. They are a versatile group who can adapt to any venue, either stripping down their big band sound to focus on African roots style songs or bringing in the horns on salsa and dance-style songs.

The band formed in order to perform at the Latin American Cultural Union as part of their 20th anniversary celebrations in 2006. Geña (Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, vocalist, percussion) asked friends and music colleagues Vijay Bakrania (guitar, percussion), Dino Lopreiato (congas, percussion) and Ketan Bakrania (bass, percussion) from Pittsburgh’s very own experimental progressive band, Chaibaba to collaborate on a musical experiment. All four musicians had been at different times performers of the African Drumming Ensemble from the University of Pittsburgh. They loved the product of their experiment, and so did the audience. It didn’t take long before they were asked to perform again and again, each time infusing the crowd with a tidal wave of world unity and love.

Although the musical instruments played are not traditional, the search for the true rustic sound of Afro-Caribbean rhythms is found through experimentation, capturing the feelings of bomba, plena, criollo, nova-trova, and salsa— music mostly rooted in African beats and Caribbean grooves.

In May 2007, they were joined by trombone & trumpet players Greg Sinn and Lars Cleath. In late 2011 Lars Cleath decided to step down after the arrival of his first son to focus on his family. Kristin Yahner joined on trumpet and perfect Spanish harmonies from Summer/Fall 2012 til Fall 2014. The latest addition to Machete Kisumontao is Gloria Rodríguez Ransom on vocals and traditional Puerto Rican dance. Ocassionaly they bring special guests to the stage such as: Preach Freedom, Jay Ashby, José Alberto Morán, Miguel “Cha” Sagué, Hill Jordan, Joel Polacci, and most recently Rick Matt (sax) and JD Chaisson (trumpet), among others.

Machete Kisumontao continues to perform and collaborate in schools and community events throughout the city of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.

Pete Matthews, writer of the New York City music blog, Feast of Music (, captured the essence of Machete’s sound and audience appeal:

Posted in art.

Powered by NEXTpittsburgh

Written by Jennifer Baron

June is this writer’s favorite month, with its lush greens, idyllic temps and promise of summer. As we make the most of long daylight hours, welcome the summer solstice and celebrate all of the dedicated dads out there, June is also the perfect time to rediscover the city’s communal spaces, recreational amenities and cultural gems. This month’s Top 10 is all about all things outdoors(y)—with festivals aplenty—so we hope to see you out there.

1. First Niagara Presents First Fridays at the Frick: June 5, 7 p.m.

Pack a picnic, grab friends and spread a blanket on the Great Lawn at the Frick Art & Historical Center. Toss in free live music under the stars and let that magical summer feeling take hold. For urban dwellers, securing a coveted spot for the highly popular series is a cherished summertime tradition. Kicking off the 2015 season is Canadian singer-songwriter and banjo player Old Man Luedecke. Hailing from Chester, Nova Scotia the two-time Juno Award winner released his latest album, I Never Sang Before I Met You, in 2014.

Mark your calendars now for the entire season: Carpe Diem Quartet on July 3rd, singer-songwriter Eleanor Friedberger on August 7th and Opek Plays Strayhorn on on September 4th.

Suggested donation: $5 per adult. Attendees are invited to arrive early and create a gourmet picnic with selections from The Café at the Frick.

Looking for more First Fridays fun? Mt. Lebanon kicks off their free series on June 5th and Brookline‘s Bash on the Blvd. continues on June 26th.


A (micro) history of world economics, danced.

2. A (micro) history of world economics, danced at the New Hazlett Theater, 7 p.m. 

Dance, theater and economics will converge at this one-of-a-kind Pittsburgh premiere. Working in close collaboration with 15 Pittsburghers with disabilities—along with 30 of their family members, friends and caregivers and 15 singers from the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, professional actors and an economic philosopher played by artist/activist John Malpede—world-renowned French director Pascal Rambert is creating the work as part of a residency with City of Asylum.

Conceived by Rambert at the peak of the European economic crisis, the production explores collective economic history via movement, theater and personal stories of diverse community participants—ultimately conveying how it has impacted people’s lives worldwide.

The free production coincides with the 25th anniversary celebration of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. Created for select international cities, the insightful work explores timeless questions about how economic value is created during times of great income disparity. Part of City of Asylum’s artist-in-the-community residency, the show strives to give voice to disenfranchised individuals and communities, create opportunities for civic engagement and empower the creative potential of Pittsburgh and its residents.

The event is free but an RSVP is required.

3. Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival: June 5 – 14

Where can you experience art as psychic healing and catch a free concert by L.A. songstress Jenny Lewis? Recently nominated by USA Today as one of the country’s Best Art Festivals, the 56th annual Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival (TRAF) fills downtown with world-class multi-disciplinary arts programming—including a signature artist market with 300+ vendors, children’s activities and plenty of festival food.

Festival-goers can experience public art as psychic healing while viewing Rudy Shepherd’s Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber, visit Michelle Illuminato’s Lost & Found Factory to watch artists recreate and return missing items to their owners and learn about Native Americans who perished between 1492 and 1600 in Fernando Orellana’s Confluence.

This year’s multiple stages feature everything from guitar god Richard Thompson and folk-rockers The Felice Brothers, to bluesy singer-songwriter Benjamin Booker and Alynda Lee Segarra’s Nola ensemble, Hurray for the Riff Raff.


Stroll down Liberty Ave. to see how artists activate downtown storefronts, including Community Supported Art’s Small Mall Pop-up Store and Matt Forrest’s Trophy Cam projections of the mystical Pennsylvania wilderness.

What else is new? For the first time in two decades, TRAF opened its juried visual art exhibition to artists living outside Pittsburgh, and the result is a multimedia group show featuring 41 works by 31 artists. Also new is a focus on literary arts, with programs featuring Jasiri X, Tameka Cage Conley, Dreams of Hope and others.And to mark its 50th anniversary, Pittsburgh Society of Artists will present Intr(au)spective, featuring 34 pieces juried by Freya Spira of the Met.

During TRAF’s closing weekend, don’t miss exciting B-boy style breakdance battles between the Hidden Characters and Get Down Gang.

Since this just a taste, be sure to check our events section for more details. View a complete TRAF schedule with maps and directions.

Full Bloom Dance Party_750

Courtesy of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.

4. Full Bloom at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater: June 6, 7 p.m.

Your passport to a spring fling with global flair is the Full Bloom Dance Party. Featuring cuisine, sounds and activities paying tribute to the artists of the Kelly Strayhorn’s World Stage, the benefit bash showcases the artistic vision and international companies the theater has introduced to Pittsburgh audiences.

Full Bloom is also a party with a purpose: all proceeds support the theater’s programming for families and youth in East Liberty.

Dress up or dress down, but come ready to dance. Ramping up the seventh annual edition will be the event’s first on-stage dance party. Get a colorful henna tattoo and then jump on stage as DJ Pandemic spins world beats. More of a wallflower? Have your fortune told in the Moroccan lounge, create a keepsake in the interactive photo booth and bid on cool packages from local businesses during the auction. In between grooves, savor refreshing Rock Bottom brews in the Bavarian Beer Garden and enjoy treats from Greek Gourmet, East End Food Co-op, Everyday’s a Sundae and Livermore.

Purchase tickets.

5. PRIDE Week: June 5 -14

Pride Week festivities across the state will be celebrated fresh on the heels of the one-year anniversary of marriage equality in Pennsylvania. From large festivals to after-hours clubs, here are just a few of the many Pride Week highlights:

June 5 & 6: Cafe Con Leche presents Orgullo! Pittsburgh Latin@ LGBTQ Pride at Bricolage Production Company. Pittsburgh’s first Latin Pride celebration will feature film screenings, workshops, music, food, community resources and more. Don’t miss the Pittsburgh premiere of the storytelling project and documentary The Gran Varones and a presentation by keynote speaker Bamby Salcedo.

June 12: Pgh Bro Club presents Ready. Set. Riot! at Cruze Bar. Celebrating the riotous, punk beginnings of contemporary queer culture, Sharon Needles’ Black Rainbow bash boasts “deranged performances by a coterie of marvelous and bizarre guests,” notably the not-to-miss winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 4. Open to ages 21 & up. 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. $12 advance ($15 at the door).

DJ Minx

June 12 – 14: Honchothon’s Pittsburgh Pride Weekend. Looking for more ways to spice up your Pride with an underground vibe? Honcho’s edgy three-day fest includes a men-only party at Club Pittsburgh and Hot Mass, a headlining event featuring Detroit’s DJ Minx and Chicago’s Steve Mizek at Hot Mass, the return of the Sunday boat cruise with disco DJs, and a Sunday night movie and pizza party at Spirit.

June 13 & 14: Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh presents Pittsburgh Pride in the Street, March for Equality and PrideFest. Commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City and reflecting the theme of “All You Need is Love,” Pride in the Street features Grammy-nominated songwriter and rapper Iggy Azalea on June 13th, and the March for Equality and PrideFest on June 14th. Free and family-friendly, the daylong PrideFest features 150-plus street performers, dance companies, drag queens and kings, musicians, food purveyors, and games and attractions.

The Delta Foundation’s choice to book Iggy Azalea has sparked controversy locally, leading to the creation of a Facebook page with 850-plus supporters who are criticizing and protesting the decision. Many in the LGBTQ community believe that prior statements made by the rapper are racist and homophobic. Learn more about these protest activities here and on the Garden of Peace Project Facebook page.

Mark your calendars now for Pittsburgh Black Pride taking place July 20 – 31.

Awards by Sandy Kaminski_750

CREATE awards by Sandy Kaminski.

6. CREATE 2015: Pittsburgh’s Art + Technology Festival: June 10 – 12, Wyndham Grand Hotel

We should dub June the Cultural District month, given the array of festivals, farmers markets and concerts taking place throughout the arts hub over the next 30 days. A first-of-its-kind art and tech mashup to add to your list is the much-buzzed-about CREATE 2015: Pittsburgh’s Art + Technology Festival, which boasts more than 50 events, workshops, exhibits, talks and interactive sessions.

Miki Agrawal_750

Miki Agrawal

Teaming up with the Three Rivers Arts Festival, CREATE will showcase regional innovation and connect Pittsburgh with global creative leaders. For the first time this year, national heavy-hitters will showcase their innovative products such as AT&T’s Virtual Reality Goggles and Hewlett-Packard’s Sprout, the world’s first immersive computer.

Featured presenters from Silicon Valley and beyond include Denise Jacob of Creativity Revolution, and Miki Agrawal, author of Do Cool Sh*t: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business, and Live Happily Ever After.

Representing Pittsburgh will be top creatives from local art, tech and community scenes. Festival-goers can experience a 22-foot immersive dome created by artist Ian Brill, attend Heather Knight’s robot comedy, take a maker workshop led by TechShop, watch game jams and much more.

View a full CREATE Festival schedule.

Courtesy of the Mattress Factory.

7. Mattress Factory Urban Garden Party, June 19, 7 p.m.

One year they built a half-pipe in the middle of the dance floor. Another year it was models who performed in a tub of milk. What’s in store for this year’s Urban Garden Party?

On one of the longest nights of the year, the anything-goes benefit bash salutes the 13th letter of the alphabet. Read: calling all magicians, mermaids and martians to the MF for music and mayhem. Dubbed M is for Mattress Factory, the shindig boasts a Michael Jackson tribute, magic shows by Baffling Bob, a Selfie Studios photo booth and performances by Meeting of Important People, Machete Kisumontao, DJs Orquidea and Mad Maxx and Tierra Darshell’s Divas of Drag.

Walking into the room-sized art installations at the Mattress Factory is akin to stepping into other realms, and the same can be said for its signature fundraiser—a place for where you and 1,400 other art lovers will commune for a night of stimulating arts entertainment and fare from a staggering lineup of 40-plus food vendors.

If you’re still standing on Sunday, June 21st, head back to the MF for the Community Garden Party, a free family-friendly celebration featuring hands-on activities and performances.

Purchase tickets.



8. Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival: June 19 – 21, Cultural District


Aaron Abernathy & Nat Turner Band.

Come late June, jazz sounds from around world will be heard throughout the streets, clubs and cafes of the Cultural District. From Afro-Caribbean rhythms and soaring vocals, to soul, funk and symphonic sounds—the 5th annual JazzLive Festival will showcase the breadth, depth and diversity of the genre.

While JazzLive is a major festival—some 15,000 fans attended last year—it still manages to retain a laid-back, intimate vibe. Presenting established and emerging acts in a variety of settings, this year’s festival focuses on artists with both international reputations and musical origins.


Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion.

Featured performers include Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion, Average White Band, Christian McBride Trio, Bebel Gilberto, Somi, Etienne Charles Calypso Review, Camila Meza, Sammy Figueroa’s Latin Jazz Explosion, Joey DeFrancesco, Aaron Abernathy & the Nat Turner Band, Craig Handy & Second Line Smith and more. Also not to miss is Song for My Father Reimagined featuring acclaimed drummer Roger Humphries and trumpeter Sean Jones interpreting the music of legendary jazz pianist and composer Horace Silver.

The free Jazz Crawl boasts 150 musicians, late-night club performances and spontaneous jam sessions. Festival-goers can also shop at the Showcase Noir African American Designer Market, pop-up Trust Vinyl record store and outdoor Night Market.

View a complete JazzLive schedule.

Make Music Pittsburgh_750

Courtesy of Make Music Pittsburgh.

9. Make Music Pittsburgh: June 21, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

In 1971 Cat Stevens sang jubilantly, “if you want to sing out, sing out,” which became the beloved theme song for Hal Ashby’s cult film Harold and Maude. The catchy tune could serve as the perfect call to action for a new initiative debuting in Pittsburgh on June 21st. Launching its first annual event throughout the city, Make Music Pittsburgh will showcase homegrown musical talents while inspiring one and all to play, sing and create together.

From hip hop in Lawrenceville and gospel in Highland Park, to bluegrass in Squirrel Hill and jazz in the Hill District—or kids playing the harmonica in Bloomfield—Make Music will create a live soundtracks for the Burgh’s sidewalks, parks and alleys. Organizer Jasmine Kurjakovic says that the day will also include performances by The Steel City Ukuleles, a mass harmonica ensemble, a documentary film project, collaborations with local music and neighborhood groups and more.

How does it work? Anyone can participate by either playing music outside, providing an outdoor space, volunteering or simply walking around and listening to concerts. Performers of all ages, levels and styles of music are welcome. Musicians can sign up to play and businesses and homes can sign up to host musicians outside of their locations. All the festival organizers ask is that the music is kept outdoors so everyone can enjoy it for free.

First held in France in 1982, Make Music will occur in some 750 cities around the globe on June 21, 2015. Ready to pick up a guitar or clarinet or host musicians? Sign up today and learn more here.

the lone bellow

The Lone Bellow

10. WYEP Summer Music Festival: June 27, 3 – 11 p.m.

Just 28 more days. Can we agree that summer is all about music under the stars? Good, then grab a blanket and your entire crew and head to Schenley Plaza for WYEP’s 18th annual Summer Music Festival.


Martin Sexton

Headlining this year’s free festival is American singer-songwriter and producer Martin Sexton. Winner of the 1994 National Academy of Songwriters’ Artist of the Year Award, Sexton has toured with Art Garfunkel, Jackson Browne and John Hiatt. His latest album, Mixtape of the Open Road, was released in 2015. Acclaimed for his wide vocal range and improvisational techniques, Sexton’s expressive music blends elements of soul, gospel, country, rock, blues and R&B.

Schenley Plaza

Courtesy of WYEP.

Also featured will be The Lone Bellow, an Americana trio featuring guitars, mandolin and vocals, and Nashville indie-rock band Kopecky. Underscoring WYEP’s commitment to pairing local and emerging talent with internationally known artists, the festival will also feature a set by Pittsburgh-based pop band Brightside.

Kicking off the festival at 3 p.m. will be local teen bands from WYEP’s Reimagination CD project. Families can also pop into the plaza tent to participate in hands-on children’s activities. Music starts at 6 p.m.

Because all good lists must come to an end, we give you our 6 very honorable mentions for June:

RAW Pittsburgh presents Splendor at Mr. Smalls: June 4
City Theatre Company’s Momentum 15 Festival: June 5 & 6
Open House events at The Clemente Museum: June 12 & 13
Vincent, A Special CMOA Theatrical Presentation at Carnegie Lecture Hall: June 13 & 14
Awesome Pittsburgh Foundation‘s “Awesome in Braddock” event at The Brew Gentlemen: June 15
London/Pittsburgh: Mark Neville at Silver Eye Center for Photography: June 26

Looking for music?

Check out our Sound Picks: 10 can’t-miss Pittsburgh concerts in June feature.


Powered by NEXTpittsburgh
Written by Jennifer Baron

March in Pittsburgh is a study in contrasts. The month that contains the first day of spring can also deliver the season’s last epic snowstorm. Whether it’s out like a lion or a lamb, there are plenty of terrific happenings to head to this month — from glass art to salsa dancing. So winter blues, we officially show you the door via our top 9 Pittsburgh events not to miss in March. For more details, check out NEXTpittsburgh’s events section each week.
1. How I Learned What I Learned, March 5 – April 5, Pittsburgh Public Theater

Pittsburgh has been abuzz about a brand new documentary co-produced by WQED that celebrates the life and work of renowned playwright and Pittsburgh native August Wilson. If you missed its national PBS premiere on February 20, catch the premiere at Pittsburgh Public Theater‘s of How I Learned What I Learned. Wilson’s one-man play about coming of age in Pittsburgh—his final life’s work—stars stage, film and TV actor Eugene Lee. Part of PPT’s 40th anniversary Season of Legends, the work is co-conceived and directed by Todd Kreidler, author of the Broadway musical, Holler If Ya Hear Me.

Audiences will be transported to Pittsburgh’s Hill District during the pivotal year of 1965. Wilson shares his experiences dropping out of school at age 15 to write poetry, supporting himself by cutting grass and working at local landmarks Klein’s and Kroger’s and even dishing about his girlfriend Snookie. From a near duel at Downtown’s iconic Oyster House and the Christmas pageant in Sister Mary Eldephonse’s seventh grade class to hearing John Coltrane at the Crawford Grill, Wilson shares his insights, passion and outrage while documenting the neighborhood and its people. Born in 1945 in the Hill District, Wilson went on to become the first African American writer to have two plays running simultaneously on Broadway and one of seven American playwrights to win two Pulitzer Prizes.

Don’t miss PPT’s free panel discussion, The Making of a Playwright: August Wilson and Black Horizon Theatre, on March 16 at 7 p.m., which will be moderated by Larry Glasco and Chris Rawson. Purchase tickets.
2. ABC@PGC, March 6 – June 7, Pittsburgh Glass Center

Sometimes you step up to an artwork that is so visceral you just want to reach out and touch it. But then you remember the rules. Forget “do not touch” and head to PGC in Garfield for an immersive new exhibition that invites viewers to not only touch, but also to wear, artworks. Inviting visitors of all ages to actively encounter art, ABC@PGC playfully explores the more creative and exuberant side of the alphabet. Featuring colorful glass sculptures juxtaposed with an illuminated word building component that attendees can rearrange and wear like apparel, the enticing exhibit challenges assumptions about how art can be experienced in a gallery setting. Created by Seattle artists Jen Elek and Jeremy Bert, ABC boasts a primary color palette reminiscent of children’s play equipment, along with brilliantly hued blown glass assemblages, wall panels and mirrored objects, that will have you thinking more about what it means to actually look at something.

ABC will be augmented by free literacy-related activities offered in collaboration with local arts and tech organizations. Don’t miss the opening reception on March 6, where you can meet the artists, play word games and watch glassblowing demos. A Family Day with hands-on activities, storytelling, letter and word games and make-and-take glass projects is set for March 8.

3. History Uncorked: We Can Do It!, March 6, Heinz History Center

Dig out those shapely shoulder-padded frocks, statement jewels and wedge heels (and double-breasted suits for the dudes) and head to the Heinz History Center for Uncorked. Celebrating the Center’s upcoming exhibition, We Can Do It! WWII, which opens on April 25, this year’s benefit bash takes a cue from 1940s-inspired décor and fashion. Whether you’re more Rosie the Riveter or Joan Crawford, prepare to enjoy “The War Years” at one of Pittsburgh’s premier party spots for the young professional set. With five hours of ’40s-themed fun, revelers will enjoy music by DJ Mad Maxx, Wreck Loose and Zig Daniels, food and libations from 25 local purveyors and a signature silent auction.

Ready to get uncorked? Learn 1940s dance moves with Arthur Murray Dance Studio, relax with a Massage Envy session and snap a ’40s keepsake in the Shutterbooth. Added bonus: All History Center exhibitions will be open throughout the event. Uncorked is expected to draw 1,500-plus, so don’t delay in getting tickets.

4. Quat’z Arts Q Ball, March 7, Energy Innovation Center

Since we can’t hop on a plane to Paris and travel in a time machine back to 1929, we suggest the next best thing: The Quat’z Arts Q Ball.

Lifting its moniker from the “Four Arts Ball,” an annual Parisian ball held from 1892 to 1966 from the École des Beaux-Arts, this year’s Q Ball will showcase Quantum’s innovative work in theater and Pittsburgh’s creative talent. Locating its night of Dadaist debauchery at the cool new space of the Energy Innovation Center (with its stunning views), the fête magnifique promises to “riff on the famous surrealist parties of 20th-century Paris celebrating the arts of painting, sculpture, architecture and printmaking.”

VIPers will be treated to a reception catered by E2, entertainment by C Street Brass and collaborative work by a team of visual and theater artists. Dance party attendees will arrive fashionably late for merrymaking with DJ Nate da Phat Barber, drinks and desserts. At Q Ball’s signature auction, guests can vie for everything from getaways to Napa Valley and NYC to dinner for 12 in Fred Steinberg’s Peter Berndtson’s Modernist masterpiece in Ligonier. Now go get started on that la mode surréaliste. Purchase tickets.

5. Mix it Up: UpPrize Networking Event, March 24, AlphaLab Gear

NEXTpittsburgh is pumped to present Mix It Up! An UpPrize Networking Event on Tuesday, March 24 at AlphaLab Gear starting at 5:30 p.m. UpPrize is the new and very cool social innovation challenge sponsored by BNY Mellon, The Forbes Funds and BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The idea is to connect Pittsburgh-based entrepreneurs and innovators—the people who can compete for up to $1 million in prizes—with the region’s nonprofits and the people they serve.

Join us on March 24 for this Pittsburgh social event bringing together local leaders who are driving innovation with social impact. Everyone is welcome, from nonprofits, startups, innovators and investors to makers, designers, inventors and more. In addition to NEXTpittsburgh, UpPrize is partnering with Mayor Peduto, AlphaLab Gear, Fygment, Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership and a host of excellent local establishments for this interactive and informal networking event with local food, drink and fun.

If you’re interested in joining the UpPrize competition, we encourage you to attend and bring your team! Once you get there, we’ll help connect you to others in the room with some painless (honest) and simple networking exercises. We’ll be aided by a great selection of local craft beer, good wine, lots of delicious food, a signature drink from Wigle Whiskey and a special guest appearance by Mayor Bill Peduto. Hey, if he’s going to be there, so should you.

Sign up here and be sure to check out UpPrize. You have until April 15 to sign up to compete. Read more here.

6. Corningworks’ At Once There Was a House, March 25 – 29, New Hazlett Theater

While professional female dancers often join companies at age 16 and are semi-retired by their early 30s, that same statistic thankfully does not apply to the locally produced Glue Factory Project. Kicking off its fifth anniversary season and seventh installment of the unique project, Corningworks presents a world premiere production specifically created for renowned performers over the age of 40.

Provocatively asking, “whatever happened to Dick & Jane?,” At Once There Was a House features a star-studded cast of local luminaries, including Jackie Dempsey of Squonk Opera, Michele de la Reza of Attack Theatre and critically acclaimed actor John Gresh. Joining them will be former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal dancer Tamar Rochelle Tolentino and Yoav Kaddar, who has danced with Pilobolus and Paul Taylor. Turning the concept of the perfect 1950s family on its head, this “zany theatrical ride” is directed by company founder Beth Corning.

Audiences will experience multidisciplinary vignettes that range from the witty and profound to the comical and unsettling. Full-­length dancetheater productions created to explore complex themes and timeless subjects, Glue Factory productions highlight process, risk-taking and the mastery of seasoned artists who possess a mature grasp of nuance and depth. Special events include a moderated talk back on March 26, a birthday bash on March 27 and a pay-what-you can matinee on March 29. Purchase tickets.

7. Pittsburgh Humanities Festival, March 26 – 29, The Cultural District and neighboring locations

Pittsburgh is home to countless festivals spanning everything from music to comics to beer. A new first is coming to town, when the inaugural Pittsburgh Humanities Festival brings world renowned academics, artists and intellectual innovators for 20-plus interviews, conversations and performances exploring the human condition. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Carnegie Mellon’s Humanities Center have teamed up to launch the annual forum for focusing on topics ranging from art, literature and music to science policy and politics.

It’s smart stuff that matters, as they say.

Featured speakers include Iranian writer and professor Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, who will discuss the role of fiction and democratic imagination in society, why we need humanities during times of crisis and more. Also headlining are Tony Award nominee Kathleen Chalfant and award-winning actress and singer Tonya Pinkins. The pair will perform Robert Myers’ play, Twilight Country, which explores the friendship that develops between a white female writer and the mother of a deceased black veteran when they read Dante’s Inferno together in the South in 1948.

Sure to be a festival hit is famed actor and outspoken supporter of human rights, George Takei, best known for starring as Hikaru Sulu in the hit TV show Star Trek. The subject of a new documentary, Takei is a refreshing voice today exploring worlds of technology, current events and pop culture. A VIP ticket will get you access to a pre-show meet & greet with the man himself.

The impressive lineup also features filmmakers John Sayles and Tony Buba, artist Vanessa German, Rolling Stone editor Anthony DeCurtis, Economist correspondent Sarah Thornton, poet Terrance Hayes, Mexican DJ Smurphy, author Frances Bartkowski, and many more. See a complete festival schedule and view all ticket options.

Farm to Table, photo by Christina Shields
8. Farm to Table Conference, March 27 & March 28, David L. Lawrence Convention Center

FTTLogoAs we eagerly await the first sighting of our perky yellow daffodils, thoughts often turn to spring gardening plans, CSAs, al fresco dining and new recipes for the warmer weeks ahead. If you want to learn more about where your food comes from and how you can make healthier food and lifestyle choices, don’t miss the ninth annual Farm to Table Conference. With its new theme of “Cook at Home,” Farm to Table is the ideal place to get into the fresh bountiful season of local growing, cooking and shopping. Attendees will enjoy hands-on cooking demos, gardening tips, food sampling and resources about nutrition, health and wellness. Featured speakers include experts, food writers, chefs and nutritionists from The Brazen Kitchen, Carnegie Library, Grow Pittsburgh, American HealthCare Group and many more.

New this year—and one we won’t miss—is a “Drink Local Happy Hour” on Friday March 27 from 5 to 8 p.m. The informal gathering of farm exhibitors and like-minded locavores will showcase the greener side of local wine, spirits and beer. Also new and exciting is Project Lunch Tray’s Junior Chef competition on Saturday, March 27, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Watch as local school students compete live while sharing their knowledge about food safety, policy, cooking techniques and nutrition. Organized by the Community Kitchen, the project inspires kids and budding chefs to reimagine what a cafeteria lunch can be.

View a complete conference schedule and see all ticket options.

9. Super Salsa Weekend, March 27 – 29, Cabaret at Theater Square and various locations

We can think of no better way to pre-game spring and bid adieu to March than with three days and nights packed with salsa dancing, performances, workshops, music and parties. Emceeing the festivities at Cabaret at Theater Square is the one and only salsa legend Izzy Sanabria. Dubbed “Mr. Salsa” for popularizing the term during the 1970s, Sanabria is an International Latin Music Hall of Famer, original member of The Fania All-Stars, and a pioneer in Latin fashion, media, music and dance.

Friday night’s lively lineup will feature salsa/bachata world champions Uriel Garcia and Vera Rowe as well as music by DJ Jeff Shirey. Saturday night’s event, also at Cabaret, will welcome NYC-based salsa act, Jose Fajardo Jr. y su Orquesta, led by the son of famed Cuban flautist, Jose Fajardo. The celebration wraps up on Sunday, March 29 with a closing dance and dinner at the Bulgarian Macedonian National Educational and Cultural Center in Homestead. The all-ages gathering will include a potluck dinner, salsa videos, meet & greet with dancers Uriel Garcia and Vera Rowe, social dancing and music by DJ Jeff Shirey.

Itching to try some moves? A range of workshops will be offered at the Wightman School Community Building in Squirrel Hill throughout the weekend. Topics include: salsa footwork and styling for men and women, salsa and bachata partnerwork, salsa history, performance techniques and more. Learn more and purchase tickets.

Because all good lists must come to an end, we give you these 5 very honorable mentions for March:

Culture Club: Adventure Bingo! with Harvard & Highland’s Alexi Morrissey, March 19, Carnegie Museum of Art

CMU International Film Festival: Faces of Work, March 19 – April 11, Carnegie Mellon University

Out of Hand, March 21, Society for Contemporary Craft

Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, March 27, 28, 29, The Westin Convention Center

PIX: The Pittsburgh Indie Comix Exposition, March 28, 10 South 9th Street

Looking for family activities? Check out NEXTpittsburgh’s Top 10 Family Adventures this March in Pittsburgh.