The hot list of activities for the coming weekend


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ALL WEEKEND

PSO Pops finale 

Broadway star Megan Hilty, known for roles in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "Wicked" and NBC's "Smash," will join the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for its final pops concert of the 2013-14 season, conducted by Steven Reineke. "Luck Be a Lady: Megan Hilty Sings Sinatra and More" will showcase songs by the Gershwins, Kander and Ebb, Barry Manilow, Cole Porter and more. The concerts are 7:30 tonight, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Hall.

Tickets are $15-$99 at 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org. A 20 percent discount will be offered to nurses and nursing students for the symphony's inaugural Nurses Weekend. Those discounted tickets are available at www.pittsburghsymphony.org/nurses or 412-392-4819.

In addition, the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing will present a class with Irene Kane and Bruce Rabin called "Stress & Nurses: Taking Care of Our Needs" at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Regency Rooms at Heinz Hall (registration at www.nursing.pitt.edu/stress).

Bluegrass jam

The hills will be alive with bluegrass this weekend at the 12th annual Laurel Highlands Bluegrass Festival in Waterford, on Route 271, five miles north of Ligonier.

The lineup features bands from Pittsburgh, Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio, including Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, Mac Martin & the Dixie Travelers, and Feller & Hill & the Bluegrass Buckaroos.

Full weekend tickets at the gate are $30; 724-238-8646 or www.laurelhighlandsbluegrass.com.

FRIDAY

6 p.m.: Rachel Burge & Blue Dawning

6:50 p.m.: Martin Brothers & Aspen Run

7:40 p.m.: Border Ride

8:30 p.m.: Rachel Burge & Blue Dawning

9:20 p.m.: Martin Brothers & Aspen Run

10:10 p.m.: Border Ride

SATURDAY

1 p.m.: Lonesome Meadow

1:50 p.m.: Mac Martin & the Dixie Travelers

2:40 p.m.: Rachel Burge & Blue Dawning

3:30 p.m.: Feller & Hill & the Bluegrass Buckaroos

4:20 p.m.: Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers

5:10 p.m.: Supper Break

6 p.m.: Lonesome Meadow

6:50 p.m.: Mac Martin & the Dixie Travelers

7:40 p.m.: Rachel Burge & Blue Dawning

8:30 p.m.: Feller & Hill & the Bluegrass Buckaroos

9:20 p.m.: Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers

Speed Dating Tonight!

Microscopic Opera presents a world premiere orchestration of Michael Ching's one-act comic opera "Speed Dating Tonight!" The opera, which will be staged in an outdoor garden, is directed by Erica Olden with music directed by Raymond Blackwell. Admission ($40) includes refreshments and snacks. It runs at 5 Shadyside Lane, Shadyside, 7 p.m. Fridays through Sundays through June 29. More at www.microscopicopera.org.

TONIGHT

Van Etten at Smalls

Next month Sharon Van Etten will play the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago, but first her tour brings her to Mr. Smalls tonight.

The Brooklyn indie sensation is touring on her fourth album, "Are We There," a self-produced follow-up to her 2012 breakthrough, "Tramp."

Rolling Stone called it a "magnificent" album that "grows her trademark examinations of romantic decay to cathedral-like scale."

The songs deal with a break-up caused by her commitment to her music career. "The title is [about] my work and my personal life, what each of those things mean to me. And trying to find balance in my life," the singer-guitarist told the Washington Post.

The show is at 8 tonight with Jana Hunter. Tickets are $16; www.mrsmalls.com.

Meet Betty Who

Betty Who, a New York-based Australian singer described as a mixture of early Madonna, Katy Perry and Robyn, scored her first No. 1 song on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart earlier this year with "Somebody Loves You."

Named an "Act to Watch" this year by Time magazine and MTV, the 22-year-old singer hits Altar Bar tonight, touring on her second EP, "The Movement."

"We're all secretly wrecks, and we're all in love and all being heartbroken. Combining those things for me has been a huge tool to get the sound I want," she said in a statement.

The show is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $14-$16; www.thealtarbar.com.

ETHEL strings

The string quartet ETHEL performs works by Ennio Morricone, Jeff Buckley, Vijay Iyer, Nico Muhly and others in a concert opening Chamber Music Pittsburgh's Just Summer series.

The concert, at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty, is titled "Grace," which is "a loosely binding element that is expressed in the various pieces in really different ways," said violist Ralph Farris in a release.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m., with a preconcert mixer at 6:30 p.m. and a Q&A session following the performance. Admission is $28 and includes one free drink and food; 412-624-4129 or www.chambermusicpittsburgh.org.

FRIDAY

Garden Party

The Mattress Factory keeps the lights on Friday for the 17th annual Urban Garden Party: Wild West.

The fundraiser will feature live entertainment, food and drink from more than 40 of the city's hottest restaurants and caterers, and a silent auction.

The evening also will feature a silent auction of one-of-a-kind artwork, bull riding with The Bull Guys and a Wild West photo booth from Selfie Studios.

Performances by DJ Zimmie, Shelf Life String Band, Stampede, Kierra Darshell's Divas of Drag and the Mad House Dancers will take place throughout the evening. The museum's galleries at 500 Sampsonia Way, North Side, will also be open, with the exclusion of those on the second floor.

Among the restaurants and catering companies will be Monterey Pub, Penn Brewery, PGH Taco Truck, Double Wide Grill, Isabella on Grandview, La Prima Espresso Co., Legume, Pittsburgh Winery and Rita's Italian Ice.

It runs 7 to 11 p.m. VIP event begins at 6 p.m. Nonmembers: $100; $250 VIP. Members: $75; $200 VIP tickets. 412-231-3169 or www.mattress.org.

Summerland bands

The Summerland Tour started in 2012 with Everclear and Sugar Ray joining forces for a '90s nostalgia package.

Last year, they split, with Everclear's Art Alexakis telling us he wanted a tour that rocked a little louder. Mark McGrath and Sugar Ray ventured off with the Under the Sun Tour, which drew a bigger crowd at Stage AE.

Once again, both tours will hit Stage AE, starting Friday with Summerland, which will feature Everclear ("Father of Mine," "Santa Monica"), Soul Asylum ("Runaway Train"), Eve 6 ("Inside Out," "Think Twice") and Spacehog ("In the Meantime").

Asked about what he looks for in the bands, the Everclear frontman told AM New York, "The criteria is you've got to have huge, iconic rock hits from the '90s, and you've got to be a real band, touring and putting out records. No mothball bands, no bands that just come out for the summer tour then hibernate until the next one. The other criteria is [that] you've got to play your hits. A lot of bands feel like they're too cool to play their hits, and that irritates me to no end."

Doors are 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25; ticketmaster.com.

SATURDAY

Downtown crush

We need to issue a Downtown Busy Alert for this day.

The good news is that the Pirates are on the road this weekend.

What we do have on Saturday is the Luke Bryan show on the North Shore, with a full day of crazy tailgating, and the free JazzLive International Festival throughout the Cultural District.

It should make for an interesting cross-cultural mix along that Penn Avenue corridor.

Free day at Children‘‍s Museum

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh on the North Side celebrates the first day of summer on Saturday with free admission and special activities.

Inside, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., families can visit the traveling exhibit "XOXO: An Exhibit about Love & Forgiveness" and make aquatic creatures in Makeshop.

Outside, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., kids can run through sprinklers and permanent misting art installation Cloud Arbor; enjoy bike powered lemonade smoothies with Zero Fossil and popsicles made by Healcrest Farms; and watch live performances in Buhl Community Park with Timbeleza (11:15 a.m.), Colonel Eagleburger's High Steppin' Goodtime Band (noon); and on the steps of the Buhl Building with Pittsburgh Banjo Club (1 and 2 p.m.) and Steel Drums by Daniel Meunier (3 p.m.)

For details: www.pittsburghkids.org; 412-322-5058.

FREEBIES

• The free Citiparks Cinema in the Parks series continues with the Pixar animated sequel "Monsters University" tonight at Brookline Memorial Park, Friday at Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville, Saturday at Grandview Park, Mount Washington, and Sunday at Flagstaff Hill, Schenley Park. "Iron Man 3" screens in Riverview Park, Observatory Hill, on Saturday. All screenings are at dusk.

• Buckwheat Zydeco performs at South Park Amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

• Hartwood Acres has Sonny Landreth with Kevin Garrett at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

• Paul Thompson plays the Citiparks Stars at Riverview Jazz Series at Observatory Hill, Riverview Park, at 7 p.m. Saturday, prior to "Iron Man 3."

• Citiparks' Bach, Beethoven and Brunch Concert Series continues in Mellon Park, Fifth and Shady avenues, from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sunday with the The Pittsburgh Philharmonic.

• Cello Fury with Joy Ike plays the SummerSounds series in Greensburg's St. Clair Park at 7 p.m. Friday.

NEED TO KNOW

• Comedian Erik Griffin appears at the Pittsburgh Improv, 166 E. Bridge St., at The Waterfront, Homestead. He's probably best known as Montez on the Comedy Central series "Workaholics" and has done a half-hour special on the network. Shows are 8 tonight, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $20; www.improv.com or 412-462-5233.

• Beatles tribute band (there are a lot of them) The Fab Four plays the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead in Munhall at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $50-$60; www.druskyent.com.

• Wine Time at the Colony features wine tasting and gourmet food shopping with live entertainment at the grounds of Penn's Colony, 365 Cochran Road, Saxonburg, from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday; www.winetimeatthecolony.com.

• The John McIntire Dangerously Live Comedy/Talk Show ponders "Pittsburgh Quirks" at the Cabaret Theater, 655 Penn Ave., Downtown, at 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Panelists include WQED's Rick Sebak and City Paper's Chris Potter. Admission is $10, free with ticket stub from a same-night Cultural Trust event. Information: www.trustarts.org or 412-325-6769.

• Nashville roots band The Wild Feathers, compared to the Jayhawks and fresh from playing Stagecoach and Bonnaroo, plays Stage AE Sunday. Doors at 6 p.m. $13-$15; ticketmaster.com.


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