It's a pretty healthy weekend here for the jam-band scene, starting tonight with a popular sideman taking on the starring role.
Tim Reynolds, guitarist and touring member of the Dave Matthews Band, strays from the hoard for a show tonight at the Hard Rock Cafe, South Side, with his electric funk trio TR3, featuring bass player Mick Vaughn and drummer Dan Martier. TR3 will play material from the new CD "Radiance," as well as songs from Reynolds' catalog and covers of James Brown, Prince and more. It's at 8 p.m. Tickets are $14 at the door. Call 412-481-7625.
• Also tonight, the Dark Star Orchestra, one of the industry's leading tribute bands taking on the music of the Grateful Dead. The DSO is so adept at its mission that singer-guitarist John Kadlecik has been recruited by Bob Weir and Phil Lesh for their new band, Further. Dan Healy, Grateful Dead sound engineer from 1966-94, said of the DSO, "There are moments where I can close my eyes and go back 30 years and have it be every bit as rewarding and satisfying. Dark Star is an amazingly legitimate representation of the Dead." It begins at 8 p.m. at Carnegie Library Music Hall in Munhall. Tickets are $25-$30. Call 412-368-5225.
• On Saturday, the tireless ekoostik hookah camps out at Mr. Small's with its own blend of psych-rock, blues, funk, jazz and bluegrass. The show is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12-$15. Call 1-866-468-3401.
Stuart Carden, former City Theatre associate artistic director, returns to his old South Side haunts to direct "Blackbird," which has its official opening Friday.
Busy Chicago actor Steve Pickering and Robin Abramson are Ray and Una, who encounter each other years after a scandalous affair. Pickering appeared as Howard Wagner in the acclaimed 1999 Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman" with Brian Dennehy.
"Blackbird," by David Harrower, received the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Play in London, beating out Tom Stoppard's "Rock 'n' Roll" and Peter Morgan's "Frost/Nixon."
The play, in City's intimate Lester Hamburg Studio stage, runs through Dec. 13. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Tuesday; 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 5:30 and 9 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (no performances Nov. 25 and 26). Tickets: $23-$48 at 412-431-CITY (2489) or CityTheatreCompany.org.
Budding musicians in East Liberty will get a boost from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra this Saturday when it donates the ticket proceeds from a concert at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. It's the third time in three years the PSO has visited East Liberty to offer a Community Engagement Concert.
Resident conductor Lawrence Loh will conduct works by Haydn, Ravel and Bridge, Mozart and Grieg, with oboist Scott Bell and violinist Jeremy Black featured in a duet by Bach. Students from Pittsburgh Dilworth PreK-5, Pittsburgh IB 6-10, Pittsburgh CAPA and Hope Academy of Music and the Arts will perform before and after the concert, which takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5-$15; 412-361-5662.
At 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, the PSO is at Heinz Hall with conductor Andris Nelsons leading it in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5, with Stefan Jackiw as soloist, Richard Danielpour's "Zoroastrian Riddles Part I" and Richard Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra." Tickets are $12.50-$79; call 412-392-4900. See interview with Jackiw on Page W-16.
It's been 30 years since songs such as "Mirror in the Bathroom" washed up on our shores, in the midst of the vaunted 2 Tone ska revival emanating from the UK punk scene.
One of the kingpins of the movement, The English Beat, perseveres under the helm of original singer-songwriter-guitarist Dave Wakeling, who is joined by General Public bassist Wayne Lothian, toaster Antonee First Class, drummer Rhythmm Epkins, sax player Nat Love and keyboardist Ray Jacildo.
The band turns up at Diesel Friday with Beat classics such as "Save It for Later," "Stand Down Margaret" and "I Confess" plus their covers of "Tears of a Clown" and "Can't Get Used to Losing You." There are a handful of new songs that they hope to release soon.
"It seems like we've hit on a fourth wave of ska now," Wakeling told us earlier this year. "Seems to be back on the upswing. There does seem to be another huge wave of teenagers followings bands like the Aggrolites and West Bound Train. I've seen this happen a number of times now. We have fans now from 16 to 60, everybody dancing in step and getting a sense of connection and tolerance and compassion and enthusiasm."
The show is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 1-800-745-3000.
Attacking the Strip
Attack Theatre puts out the welcome mat to its new digs with "Incident(s) in the Strip," described as "a journey of action and reaction through high-energy dance and original live music."
The local (and international) troupe of dancers, musicians and designers offer the world premiere in their new Strip District home at Pittsburgh Opera's headquarters, "transformed into a sound and kinetic landscape" for a six-show run.
An intriguing description of what to expect includes: "A skateboarding percussionist enters the theater space and triggers an experience of contemporary and classic urban images -- a loud brick alley, a furtive glance, fresh coffee being ground, a gathering of passionate whispers and ever intrusive traffic. ..." At a certain point in the show, the audience's chairs are moved on the stage area and the seating platforms have been transformed into the performance space.
"Incident[s] in the Strip" runs 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Monday and Tuesday and Nov. 20-21 at 2425 Liberty Ave. Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door, $15 for students, seniors and teachers; ProArtsTickets at www.proartstickets.org or 412-394-3353. More at www.attacktheatre.com.
The New Olde Bank Theatre in Verona brings "The Year of Magical Thinking," based on Joan Didion's best-sellling memoir, to a local stage for the first time.
The one-woman play is based on the year following the deaths of Didion's husband, John Dunne, and their daughter, Quintana Roo. The title refers to the concept of magical thinking as the belief that one can bring about a circumstance or event -- or avert it -- just by thinking about it.
The book won the National Book Award and Vanessa Redgrave starred in the Broadway run of the play, which was nominated for a Tony Award. Lori Barrage of Natrona Heights stars for Olde Bank, with Sean Michael O'Donnell directing.
Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Nov. 20 and 21; latecomers will not be seated. Tickets are $12 and reservations required; 412-251-7904 or www.newobt.com.
The Pittsburgh Compline Choir, which sings Sunday evenings in Heinz Memorial Chapel, will benefit from the efforts of an instrumentalist when pianist Eric Siepkes gives a benefit concert at 8 Saturday night in St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Highland Park. On the program are works by Mozart, Brahms, Bach and Chopin.
Who is Siepkes? The graduate of Woodland Hills High School is still in the early years of his career in part because he didn't start studying the piano until he was 15. But he has already made it to Carnegie Hall in New York (he played there in 2006 as winner of the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition). He went to the Eastman School of Music and now studies at Mannes College of Music in New York. Suggested donation is $35 per person (students $10), available at the door; call 412-682-6886 for more information.
Honky tonk ball
The holiday events are rolling already. This Saturday, it's Slim Forsythe's Steeltown Christmas, which is billed as "a honky tonk charity ball."
Forsythe's traditional country band The Parklane Drifters will perform, and they'll be selling copies of their "Steeltown Christmas" CD.
Admission is free, but the event is also a fundraiser for Cathy G Charities, a nonprofit organization founded in memory of Catherine Greisinger, who died in a house fire in 2003. Cathy G Charities raises money for a number of charitable organizations, including Make-A-Wish Foundation, Children's Hospital Free Care Fund, Salvation Army and others.
Steeltown Christmas is an all-ages show Saturday at 7 p.m. at Nied's Hotel, 5438 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Information: 412-781-9853.
Altar Bar opens its doors Sunday night for The Alternative Press Tour, a collision of youthful bands led by Chicago emo-rockers and Warped Tour vets The Academy Is... and also featuring Mayday Parade, Set Your Goals, The Secret Handshake and You Me At Six.
Here was the reaction of the Stanford Daily: "The Academy Is... blew the rest of the bands out of the water. The band had the audience pumping their fists, singing back lyrics and drawing them in a way that felt sincere and not cheesy. The group looked like they were having an absolutely amazing time, and it reflected on the audience. ... While the concert as a whole was not the best I've been to [one would hope not], the collective experience is greater than its parts and it was worth it, if for nothing else than The Academy Is...'s amazing set."
It begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15-$17. Call 1-800-745-3000.
• This you do need to know, lest you think you've run into lunatics in the Carnegie Museum of Art's Hall of Architecture today. Singers from Opera Theater of Pittsburgh will perform short "guerrilla opera" performances at 6, 6:30 and 7 p.m., with soprano Diba Alvi and countertenor Daniel Schuetz singing Handel and Monteverdi arias among the spectacular architectural casts.
• Lawrence Loh takes over for the departed Daniel Meyer as music director of the one of the city's best musical deals, the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, which continues to offer free music played at a level belying its "youth" tag. At 7 p.m. Sunday PYSO takes the Heinz Hall stage for Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" and Elgar's "Enigma Variations." Download free tickets at www.pyso.us.
• Members of the Pittsburgh Symphony join Chatham University pianist Yeeha Chiu for a program of Schumann's chamber music, including "Fairy Tales" for Clarinet, Piano and Violin and Piano Quartet in E flat Major at 3 p.m. Saturday at the James Laughlin Music Center on campus. $15.
Compiled by Scott Mervis, Sharon Eberson, Adrian McCoy, Andrew Druckenbrod