Powered by NEXTpittsburgh / Written by Brian Conway

From single-day neighborhood festivals to weeklong extravaganzas, summer music festivals in Pittsburgh take on all shapes and sizes. Here’s a closer look at each of the festivals, with information on the performers and what makes each festival unique.

Pittsburgh Festival of New Music

Now through May 30, throughout town. Pricing varies by event.

This one is already underway. There was a pop-up performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite in Market Square. Otherwise, glancing at the full festival lineup, there are a lot of world premieres and descriptors like “minimalist” and “avant-garde.” Take, for example, the Pittsburgh premiere of Cornelius Cardew’s The Great Learning, described as being composed for “a large number of trained and untrained musicians, based on on texts by Confucius in Ezra Pound’s translations.” Kudos to anyone doing something outre and new in Pittsburgh. Get the full lineup at the Festival website.

Layer Cake Festival

June 3-4, Mr. Smalls (21+); Cattivo (21+); Spirit (21+); James St. Gastropub (all ages). $15 (single venue) – $30 (all venues). 

Last year, Layer Cake Festival took the neighborhood tour model and packed it inside James St. Gastropub, with over 30 bands spread across 3 different stages. Like Deutstchtown, Layer Cake expands to 2 nights this year. Over 120 bands will play across 4 different venues, each with multiple stages. A shuttle will run between venues. Layer Cake stands out for featuring a large number of local hip-hop acts, as well as a smattering of regional bands. More info, including set times, will be announced on the Layer Cake Facebook page.


Three Rivers Arts Festival

June 3-12, Point State Park. Free. 

The unofficial start to summer in Pittsburgh, this year’s Arts Fest lineup falls in the same mold as years past—heavy on folk, bluegrass and soul; light on hip-hop, heavy metal, or rock that’s any harder than Guster (see them June 10). Some of this year’s standout headliners include Parisian twin sister duo Ibeyi (June 5), retro jazz/soul outfit Lake Street Dive (June 12), and “the screaming eagle of soul,” Charles Bradley (June 8). Check out NEXT’s full-length TRAF preview for more information on the headliners, and visit the Arts Fest website for full festival details.


Allegheny County Parks Summer Concert Series

Fridays, June 3-September 4 (South Park); Sundays, June 5-September 6 (Hartwood Acres). Free.

With free concerts running every week from June through September, there are bound to be both hits and misses when it comes to the Summer Concert Series at South Park and Hartwood Acres. Some standouts include The Ohio Players (7/17, Hartwood), Booker T’s Stax Revue (8/14, Hartwood), a pair of performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (6/3 South Park; 7/3 Hartwood), as well as Randy Baumann’s Ramble (7/31 Hartwood), an all-star local rock band revue. Each concert is free, except for the Allegheny County Music Festival, September 4, featuring Rusted Root with Nevada Color, Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors ($20 suggested donation). See the entire summer concert series lineup at the Allegheny County website.

Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival

June 24-26, Downtown. Pricing Varies.

Of course the city that gave the world Stanley Turrentine, Ahmad Jamal, Errol Garner and Billy Eckstine would have a top-notch international jazz festival representative of all types of jazz. Taking place in the Cultural District, this year’s JazzLive spans three days and is headlined by former Miles Davis pianist, Chick Corea, alongside drummer Brian Blade and bassist Christian McBride. Also appearing: the Eddie Palmieri Big Salsa Orchestra, and Pittsburgh’s own, Jeff “Tain” Watts. Outdoor performances are free; indoor performances will be ticketed. Keep an eye on the Pittsburgh JazzLive website for schedules and ticket prices as they are made available.


WYEP Summer Music Festival 2016

June 25; Schenley Plaza, Oakland. Free.

This year’s lineup is solid: opener Margaret Glaspy’s debut album comes out in June on ATO Records (home to Alabama Shakes and My Morning Jacket), and headliner Lucius is one of the more innovative indie pop bands to emerge from Brooklyn in recent memory. And while Summer Music Fest is one of the best local festivals at providing equal headlining space to female-fronted musical acts, since 2008, when the festival first moved to Schenley Plaza, there has been but a single minority musical performer on the bill. There is also a kid-friendly Reimagination Showcase in the afternoon, which itself features a very diverse lineup, including the East Liberty Presbyterian Church’s Hope Academy Teen Theater Company, as well as the Funky Fly Project (ages 10-14). More info at the WYEP website.



Jam On Walnut

June 25; July 23; August 20. 5442 Walnut Street. Free.

However you felt about the 2015 Jam on Walnut, you’ll feel the same about it this year, too: all three headliners are repeats from last year, including “Pittsburgh’s Premier Disco Party Band,” Dancing Queen (June 25); country singer/fiddler, Chris Higbee (July 23); and local cover band, Radio Tokyo (August 20). (They could have at least brought back Bon Journey.)Happy Hour is from 7-8:30; proceeds from the event benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Western PA Chapter. This is the block party’s 20th anniversary. More information on the Jam on Walnut Facebook page.



Vine Rewind: A Penn Avenue Picnic

June 26, 2800 Block Penn Ave. Free. 

The inaugural Vine Rewind, an initiative of the Pittsburgh Winery, takes place the day of OpenStreetsPGH. Beginning in the morning, at 10 a.m., the 2800 block of Penn Avenue will remain closed to traffic all day, even after OpenStreets ends. The free block party features local food, beer, and a pair of outdoor stages. Clinton Clegg’s The Commonheart headlines, while over a dozen Pittsburgh heavy-hitters take to the stage throughout the day, including Joy Ike, Nevada Color, and Morgan Erina. There’ll even be a performance by the Buzz Poets. Set times and more information on the Vine Rewind Facebook page.


Deutschtown Music Festival 

July 8-9, Deutschtown (multiple venues). Free. 

Deutschtown is essentially the Northside version of Lawrenceville’s Rock All Night Tour: take a couple dozen venues, open them to the public and let local bands play sets inside, free of charge, all day (and all night) long. Now in its fourth year, Deutschtown has expanded into a two-day festival, both Friday and Saturday, complete with food trucks, outdoor stages, and over 180(!) local performers. There’s no better crash course to Pittsburgh’s local music. More information is available at the Deutschtown website.

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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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Written by Brian Conway

Luna. Photo by Stefano Giovannini.Luna. Photo by Stefano Giovannini.

Southern rap and Southern rock. Northwest grunge, and a boatload of local bands. Don’t forget some Layer Cake for dessert.

Lee Bains III and Glory Fires. Photo by Wes Frazer.

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires

Thursday, October 1. 10 p.m.

Smiling Moose – 1306 East Carson Street


Sometimes, you just wanna rock. Forget the synths, kick out the jams, and start melting faces. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires give listeners that unmistakable southern rock sound blended with a snarling punk ferocity. The band are touring in support of Dereconstructed, their second album and first on the Sub Pop label. Rounding out the bill are Nashville’s Pujol and Jay Wiley, frontman for Pittsburgh’s The Hawkeyes.

Layer Cake. Poster by Joe Mruk.

Layer Cake. Poster by Joe Mruk.

Layer Cake – Music & Art Festival

Saturday, October 3. 1 p.m. – 2 a.m.

James Street Gastropub – 422 Foreland St.

$15 adv./ $20 d.o.s.

Always wanted to get into the local music scene, but weren’t sure where to start? Check out dozens of local musicians spread out over three stages at the inaugural Layer Cake. Presented by local promoter Ziggy Sawdust, the lineup boasts over 35 bands, a dozen live painters and a comedian hosting each of the three stages. Check out the glorious Joe Mruk poster for the full lineup. Go for even an hour and you’re guaranteed to find something you like.

MC Lyte. Photo courtesy the artist.

MC Lyte. Photo courtesy the artist.

MC Lyte – VIA Main Event

Saturday, October 3. 8 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Spirit Lounge – 242 51st St.


Legendary Brooklyn rapper MC Lyte headlines VIA 2015’s main event. Not only was Lyte was the first female rapper to release a full-length album, with 1988’s Lyte as a Rock, she was also first female solo rapper ever nominated for a Grammy. She’ll be performing as a legacy artist at VIA, with visuals provided by Mexico City’s Alfredo Salazar-Caro. Lyte just recently released her first album in 12 years, Legend. The album was available for one day only, on Record Store Day 2015, and only on vinyl. But you’re in luck: the only other place to score a copy is at one of her shows.

3 Hour Tour. Poster by Aaron Shafer.

3 Hour Tour. Poster by Aaron Shafer.

3 Hour Tour

Sunday, October 4. 1:30 p.m.

Gateway Clipper – 350 W Station Square Dr.


A typical one-hour riverboat sightseeing tour of Pittsburgh runs $20. Plunk down an extra Jefferson and spend three hours on the Gateway Clipper’s “Princess” riverboat partying with some of Pittsburgh’s finer musical acts at the third annual 3 Hour Tour. Performing will be local indie rockers Wreck Loose, The Commonheart, Round Black Ghosts and Paul Luc. And if we’ve learned anything from T-Pain, it’s that everything is better on a boat:




Strange Wilds

Tuesday, October 13. 8 p.m.

Spirit Lounge – 242 51st St.

$8 adv./ $10 d.o.s.

Olympia is 60 miles southwest of Seattle, birthplace of Riot Grrl, and the final resting place of Kurt Cobain, whose ashes were scattered in a creek there in 1994. (It was where Cobain “had found his true artistic muse,” or so says Charles Cross.) That’s where this band is from. Strange Wilds is a noisy, raucous, sneering punk rock trio who will spit you up and chew you out   that would put them right at home with rest of the late ’80s – early ’90s Seattle grunge scene. They signed to Sub Pop on the strength of just one EP:




Wednesday, October 14. 8 p.m.

The Andy Warhol Museum – 117 Sandusky St.

Sold Out

Is it too early to call Luna the official house band of the Andy Warhol Museum? Dean Wareham & co. played a free show in the museum’s parking lot back in 2000, as part of a street bazaar celebrating the cultural underground’s influence on Warhol. Years later, the museum commissioned Dean & Britta to compose songs for a series Andy’s screen tests, which premiered at the Byham in 2008 as 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. The pair returned last year to perform in front of three more Warhol screen tests as part of Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films. There’s a distinct Velvet Underground vibe that runs through Luna’s music, which makes the Warhol partnership that much more fitting. They return to the Warhol next month as part of their nationwide reunion tour.


The Zombies

Wednesday, October 14. 8 p.m.

Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead – 510 East 10th Ave, Munhall


Not only are The Zombies performing their era-defining album “Odessey and Oracle” in its entirety, the British psych-pop legends are also touring in support of a new album, Still Got That Hunger, which comes out in early October. For what it’s worth, Rolling Stone hyped the new album in a recent piece on The Zombies, but remember that this is coming from the same magazine that named U2’s Songs of Innocence “album of the year” last year. With a pair of founding members still onboard, keyboardist Rod Argent and singer Colin Blunstone, the new tunes can’t be that bad. If nothing else, they’ll put timeless tracks like “Time of the Season” and “She’s Not There” in proper perspective.

Kylesa. Photo courtesy the band.

Kylesa. Photo courtesy the band.


Saturday, October 17. 8 p.m.

Altar Bar – 1620 Penn Ave.


Kylesa bubbled out of the same cauldron of stoner psych and sludge metal as fellow Savannahians Baroness and Black Tusk. The band is touring in support of Exhausting Fire, their seventh and newest LP, which will be released on October 2nd. The new singles released so far find the trio as heavy as ever. Guitarists Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants continue to trade off on vocals, lending even more variety to the band’s already diverse sonic palette.



Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life Performance Tour

Monday, October 19. 8:00 p.m.

Consol Energy Center – 1001 Fifth Ave.


Stevie Wonder has had an incredible life so far. Number One hit at age 13. Academy Award Winner. More Grammys than any solo artist.  UN Messenger of Peace. Motown legend. He even led the campaign to honor Dr. Martin Luther King with a national holiday.  Take the money you were going to spend to see The Who at Consol and re-invest it into seeing an American legend. Stevie will be performing his Songs in the Key of Life album in its entirety, as well as other hits from his expansive back catalog.

Big K.R.I.T.

Thursday, October 29. 8 p.m.

Mr. Smalls – 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale


Most probably heard Big KRIT for the first time on “Glass House,” a track tucked at the end of Wiz Khalifa’s hyper-popular Kush and OJ mixtape. That was in 2010, a year before the Mississippi MC appeared on the cover of XXL‘s Freshman issue, alongside the like Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, Yelawolf and Meek Mill. Big KRIT is still as vital as any of those rappers. Currently signed to Def Jam, KRIT’s latest album, Cadillactica, was seen as one of the best hip-hop albums of 2014. And while KRIT is not officially working on a new album, he did just release a new track, “86,” just last month:




Bully. Photo by Emma Swann.

Bully. Photo by Emma Swann.

  • Grungy Nashville rockers Bully play Brillobox with Heat October 3, and were just featured on an episode of Sound Opinions.
  • Local singer-songwriter Brooke Annibale celebrates her new album, The Simple Fear, with a full band album release show at the Pittsburgh Winery October 3.
  • 70s NY punk rocker Sonny Vincent performs at Get Hip Records Headquarters October 3. 
  • Also on October 3, famed jazz outfit The Yellowjackets visit Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.
  • Electronic artist Michal Menert performs songs from his Space Jazz album at Club Cafe October 4.
  • Indie rock veterans Built to Spill visit Mr. Smalls October 4 in support of their new album, Untethered Moon.
  • Steve Hackman is back for more FUSE@PSO, this time mashing up Beethoven + Coldplay October 6.
  • Nevada Color headline a quartet of local rock bands at Cattivo October 9, including Emerson JayThe Nox Boys and William Forrest.
  • Portland post-metal band Red Fang perform at Altar Bar October 9.
  • The Van Allen Belt play a free show October 11 at Spirit, w/ The Lopez and Mrs. Paintbrush.
  • LA rapper Hopsin — AKA the guy with the white contact lenses — is at Altar Bar October 12.
  • Guitar virtuoso Mark Knopfler performs at Heinz Hall October 13.
  • Buzz-heavy Toronto electro-pop band Grounders visit Spirit October 16.
  • Local indie pop bands Donora and Wreck Loose welcome Chicago’s AyOH to Brillobox October 16.
  • Electronic artist Emancipator brings the full ensemble for a performance at the Rex Theater October 20.
  • And finally, the rock-steady, inimitable Ringo Starr brings his All-Starr Band (including Todd Rundgren) to Heinz Hall October 27.


DreamOn Pittsburgh, organized by Omicelo and Downtown-based social enterprise DreamCream Ice Cream, takes over Market Square with a free music festival accompanied by hand-crafted ice cream.

The three-day event starts at 10 a.m. Friday, and features such beloved regional performers as Dj Nate Da Phat Barber, Beauty Slap, Karl Franklin, Anqwenique, Noel Quintana’s Latin Crew, CMU Bhangra, My Thai Dance Troupe, 412tuned and — of course — fireworks. The full line-up is here. The organizers are giving 5 percent ownership and training to local high school and GED students that are volunteering at the DreamOn Festival.

Check out the video below from last year’s inaugural festival, and our 2012 story about DreamCream here.


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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.