Briar Rabbit sounds like yet another indie band with an animal in the name.
What it is is the nom de plume of Philip-Michael Scales, the nephew of blues legend B.B. King. Rather than follow in those footsteps, he was raised on musical theater and even performed with Donny Osmond in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat."
His own music is a folk-pop hybrid with a narrative lyrical style, which can be heard on his new album, "From Your Bones."
"I guess I'm more of a lyricist, if I had to pick a side," he told the Iowa City Press-Citizen. "I never really had much fun jamming."
He performs at Club Cafe at 8 tonight with Joel Ansett and Tony Cenname. Admission is $8. www.clubcafelive.com.
'Sweet Earth' talk
Carnegie International 2013 artist Joel Sternfeld will give a free public talk at 6:30 tonight at Carnegie Museum of Art.
The acclaimed American photographer will speak on his series "Sweet Earth," photographs and accompanying texts that chronicle experimental utopias in the United States. They're exhibited in the museum's Hall of Sculpture.
Information: 412-622-3131 or www.cmoa.org.
New Jersey singer-songwriter John Gorka, whose songs have been covered by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith and Mary Black, among others, performs a Calliope: The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society concert at 7:30 tonight at The Roots Cellar, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Shadyside. The singer with the rich baritone is touring his 11th studio album, "So Dark You See."
Tickets are $28 or $12 with student ID; www.calliopehouse.org or 412-361-1915.
Singer-songwriter Matthew Houck, who works under the moniker of Phosphorescent, was feeling a little burnt out after the last touring cycle when he went home to New York.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to make another Phosphorescent record at that time," he has said.
He found inspiration again on a trip to Mexico, which inspired the sixth album, "Muchacho," led by the heartbreaking six-minute chamber-pop single, "Song for Zula,"
A.V. Club called the album his most accomplished, "heartrending and life-affirming, equal parts lost-love devastation and hip-swaying, horn-led exultation."
Phosphorescent plays Mr. Smalls at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $16; www.mrsmalls.com.
FRIDAY AND SUNDAY
Opera at CAPA
Pittsburgh Opera is back from its winter hibernation with a production of Nico Muhly's "Dark Sisters" at the CAPA Theater, Ninth Street at Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Downtown.
The opera by the young American composer deals with the lives of mothers on a polygamist compound in the Southwestern United States, after their children are taken from them in a government raid.
Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $50; www.pittsburghopera.org or 412-456-6666.
Combining instrumental post-rock and electronic dance, Lotus is the kind of band that bounces between rock and EDM festivals.
The tight, rhythmic band, based in Denver and Philly and managed by the local Opus One Productions, returns to Stage AE on Saturday in support of two records released last year, "Build" and "Monk," the latter an excursion into hip-hip.
It begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 advance; $25 day of show; www.ticketmaster.com.
The musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and music director Manfred Honeck are donating their services for the second PSO Musicians Care benefit concert, which raises money to support local music education programs. The concert, featuring Lorna McGhee on flute and George Vosburgh on trumpet, will include music by Johann Strauss, Bach, Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky.
The fund has raised more than $26,000 so far, including $10,000 from The Pittsburgh Foundation. The first award will go to the Washington High School band program for instrument repair.
The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Upper St. Clair High School auditorium, 1925 McLaughlin Run Road. Tickets: $25; https://community.pittsburghfoundation.org/psoconcert or 412-394-2624.
Stogie Amir Kenyatta stars in "The World Is My Home: The Life & Times of Paul Robeson" at the Community Empowerment Association Cultural Center, 7210 Kelly St., Homewood, at 7:30 p.m.
In his one-man show, Mr. Kenyatta, as Robeson, demonstrates that "from the horrors of the slave trade to the shame of the Holocaust, from the artistic wonders of the Harlem Renaissance to the bebop era, to McCarthyism, blacklists, racism and oppression, in spite of our differences we still have more in common than we do in conflict."
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children; www.ceapittsburgh.org or 412-371-3689, ext. 44.
NEED TO KNOW
• Actor-comedian Guy Torry will perform at the Pittsburgh Improv, Waterfront. He has appeared on "Def Comedy Jam" and "Comics Unleashed" and been in films including "American History X" and "Runaway Jury." Show times are 8 tonight; 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and 7 and 9:15 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $17; www.improv.com or 412-462-5233.
• The Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra and pianist Joyce Yang will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Palace Theatre, Greensburg. The concert features Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 5 and Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F. Concertgoers are welcome to bring nonperishable food items as donations to the Westmoreland County Food Bank. Tickets are $10-$39; www.westmorelandsymphony.org or 724-837-1850.
• Assume your best child's pose for "Asana Utsava: A Celebration of Music and Movement," which brings together the local yoga studios in a gathering to bridge mind, body and classical music. The free event takes place at 7:30 tonight at Heinz Memorial Chapel and Friday at the Bloomfield-Garfield Community Center, 113 N. Pacific Ave. More at www.ovrearts.org.
• Yellowcard, the pop-punk band with the violin, does a sold-out show at Altar Bar, Strip District, tonight playing Ocean Avenue Acoustic tour followed by an electric set. It begins at 8 p.m.
• Autograph, the '80s hard rock band best known for "Turn Up the Radio," reunited last year but without singer Steve Plunkett. The band plays Altar Bar in the Strip at 8:30 p.m. Saturday with Sumpn Fierce, Neutral Loss and SickSense. Admission is $20 advance; $23 at the door; www.thealtarbar.com.