■ It has been 14 years since Heather Kropf released "Sky," a debut chock-full of lyrical nuggets perfect for stations like WYEP.
Since then, she has released a new collection of top-notch material about every four years. This time around, she upped the ante, recording at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and Audible Images Studios with Grammy-winning engineer Jay Dudt. His experience recording and capturing the sounds of some of the world's finest musicians has paid off big-time -- "Chrysalis" is a lush soundscape with Ms. Kropf spreading her core piano sound a little wider with the addition of dulcimer and vibraphone via co-producer Jeff Berman.
The process has not been easy. Ms. Kropf suffered a concussion that caused her to make choices about "how to use my brain power." As local specialists helped her recovery process, she documented the recording process on her website and devoted fans helped through a Kickstarter campaign.
They will not be disappointed. Lyrically, Ms. Kropf is delving into some previously uncharted territory, writing more in the first-person about broken love, hope and healing. She is a rare lyricist who can turn a date at the county fair to see the demolition derby into a jazzy, romantic interlude that tugs at the heart. When asked about it, Ms. Kropf laughed and said "Yep, I wasn't messing around."
Heather Kropf and band perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at Pittsburgh Winery, Strip District, with Paul Tabachneck. Tickets are $15; www.showclix.com.
Music Smiles benefit
■ The Blues Society of Western PA and The Sonny Pugar Memorial join forces for the Gardenia Summer Blues Concert Sunday on the outdoor deck at 31 Sports Bar-Grille, 1020 Washington Pike, Bridgeville.
The lineup features Bottom Shelf Blues Band, Craig King, Shot O' Soul, The Igniters, Judi Figel, Helene Milan, Shari Richards and Stevee Wellons.
Proceeds benefit the Pugar Memorial's "Music Smiles" program, which produces and funds live music visits to local hospitals.
Doors open at 3 p.m., followed by the bands at 4 p.m.
Admission is $12; $10 for Blues Society members. It is an over-21 event. Those between 18-21 years of age must be with a parent.
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