Following the trend of the past few months, the December concert lineup is one of smaller delights -- unless you happen to be a devotee of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Dec. 2: Steep Canyon Rangers
Sometime frontman Steve Martin will not be aboard when the Grammy-winning bluegrass outfit Steep Canyon Rangers pulls into town for a club show.
The acclaimed North Carolina group, which has been active since 2000, is touring behind “Radio,” a ninth album produced by dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas (Alison Krauss and Union Station) that All Music called an “outstanding album from one of the most exciting new bands in bluegrass.”
Fans of 8-string guitarists will want to check out LA-based instrumental power trio Animals As Leaders, which has two of them.
The band -- guitarists Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes and drummer Matt Garstka -- emerged in 2007 and debuted two years later with a self-titled album -- mixing prog, experimental metal and modern jazz -- that put them on the 2010 Summer Slaughter Tour with Decapitated, Vital Remains and All Shall Perish. Along the way, the heavy, hyperkinetic band also has toured with Circa Survive, Underoath and Between the Buried and Me, among others.
Animals as Leaders on the road now with a fourth full-length album, “The Madness of Many,” so named because, says Reyes, “What you’re hearing is the madness of the band, what happens in our heads, and what it sounds like when you put it all together. For us, that’s the sound of the new album. It’s simply the madness of these three individuals. We’re trying to create something that only we can do.”
You can try it at home, but you’re probably not gonna match it.
(Mary Staley Pridgen Bare Bones Photography Studio)
Dec. 3: The Subdudes
“This is New Orleans R&B at its most swinging,” said Rolling Stone, “with touches of barroom blues, gospel-inspired harmonies, rock and country rhythms and, very simply, some fine playing.”
RS was describing the Subdudes, a swampy roots band that formed in 1987 at the legendary Tipitina’s and introduced themselves to the world with a debut album two years later.
The Subdudes, who were on hiatus between 2011 and ‘14, are led by singer/guitarist Tommy Malone and accordionist John Magnie with drummer Steve Amedée and bassist Tim Cook.
Calliope at Carnegie Lecture Hall, Oakland, 7:30 p.m., $45; $20 full-time student ID; www.calliopehouse.org or 412-361-1915.
Dec. 4: O Starry Night 4
O Starry Night 4, the annual holiday concert presented by Star 100.7, is a more intimate affair this year, moving from the Petersen Center to the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall in Munhall.
Headlining is Andy Grammer, the pop-soul rocker from LA recently seen lying on the turf at Ford Field for the Lions-Vikings halftime on Thanksgiving. He came along in 2011 with the upbeat hits "Keep Your Head Up" and "Fine by Me" and then broke the Top 10 on the charts in 2014 with the bouncy "Honey, I'm Good." In July, he stayed on the same breezy track with “Fresh Eyes,” the first single from a forthcoming third record.
Sharing the stage that night will be Florida pop rockers We The Kings, who are veterans of the Vans Warped Tour, and Chris Jamison, the Ross native who became an overnight sensation on Season 7 of "The Voice."
Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, Munhall, 8 p.m., $30/$50; ticketfly.com.
Dec. 4: Pete Yorn
On his new album “Arranging Time,” LA rocker Pete Yorn tried to recapture the R.E.M.-ish spirit that grabbed people when he released his debut, “Musicforthemorningafter,” in 2001.
The singer-songwriter, originally from New Jersey, has taken some detours along the way, including working with Scarlett Johansson on the “Break Up,” teaming with J.D. King in The Olms, and getting Pixie-ish with Frank Black.
“This new record represents a step forward in sonics and creativity while celebrating and honoring some of the groundwork I laid back in the early part of the century,” he said, upon its release.
The self-proclaimed “Greatest Rock n’ Roll Band in the World” was absent most of 2015 while frontman Eddie Spaghetti battled (and seems to have beaten) a rare form of throat cancer.
The Supersuckers returned to the road earlier this year, still happily bashing away at their blend of garage, punk and country but working as a trio with Mr. Spaghetti joined by guitarist “Metal” Marty Chandler and drummer Christopher Von Streicher.
The Tuscon/Seattle band, touring behind the most recent album, “Holdin’ the Bag,” will hit 30 next year, prompting the singer-bassist to reflect, in an interview with the Knoxville Mercury, “I just kind of thought we’d be like this Van Halen-sized rock band playing arenas, screwing groupies and doing cocaine off of chicks’ asses and all that sort of stuff, but it didn’t work out like that. Instead we became like this sort of underground band that is kind of a band’s band.”
He is joined by Austin guitar blazer Jesse Dayton, who’s worked with everyone from Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson to John Doe and Rob Zombie.
Do you love those albums that seem to be made for watching the snow fall?
Matt Pond PA, the New York-via-Philly band, has made such a beauty with its 11th record“Winter Lives,” which finds frontman Pond drawing inspiration from his New Hampshire youth (and early love of ELO).
It’s an album of shimmering chamber-pop -- with delicate guitar work from Chris Hansen, melancholy strings from Shawn Alpay’s and vocal contributions from Laura Burhenn (The Mynabirds) and Leslie Sisson (Moving Panoramas) -- that’s perfect for the intimacy of Club Cafe.
This band of brothers from Missouri -- 23-year-old frontman Dee Radke, 21-year-old bassist Isaiah and 19-year-old drummer Solomon -- takes its cues from Bad Brains, Black Flag and Minor Threat, so this one is gonna rock pretty hard.
Radkey played its first-ever show opening for Fishbone in 2011 and has gone on to play festivals all over the world, including Coachella, Riot Fest, Download and AfroPunk, and is now touring behind its second album “Delicious Rock Noise.”
Nathan Zoob, of Wreck Loose, is back as the music director for this typically offbeat holiday show with a cast of local WYEP all-stars.
They are: Molly Alphabet, Brooke Annibale, Judith Avers, David Bubenheim (Pet Clinic), Les Bowe & Chuck Kristan (The Freedom Band), Kiki Brown (The Buckle Downs), Clinton Clegg (The Commonheart), Bill Deasy, Avi Diamond, Mark Dignam, Lauren Delorenze (The Red Western), Morgan Erina, Becky Gallagher (LoFi Delphi), Casey Hanner (Donora), Michael McCormick & Lee Hintenlanger (City Dwelling Nature Seekers), Norm Nardini, Billy Price, Mark Ramsey (Cold Weather), Matthew Ryan, Sarah Siplak & Scott Peterson (The Wreckids), Alex Stanton (townsppl), Addi Twigg (The Telephone Line), Josh Verbanets (Meeting of Important People) and Chet Vincent.
Stage AE, North Shore, 8 p.m., DJ Selecta at 7 p.m., $20 ($25 at the door); $30 in advance, reserved seating upstairs ($35 at the door). Bring a gift card to contribute to Veterans' Leadership Program of Western PA.
Dec. 10: A Soulful Holiday with Billy Price Band & The Commonheart
Expect the room to be packed when these two titans of Pittsburgh soul clash on the Rex stage.
Price, of course, is a legend who’s been working the clubs here since the early ‘70s. Clinton Clegg is a legend in the making who just released a stellar debut called “Grown” with his band The Commonheart. They’ve shared stages just a few times, including last summer at Hartwood Acres, where the chemistry was off the charts.
This won’t be much like the Holiday Hootenanny. San Francisco alt-rock band Third Eye Blind, best known for the late ’90s hits "Semi-Charmed Life," "Jumper" and "How's It Going to Be," headlines with strong support from glammy British garage rockers The Struts (“Could Have Been Me”), Iowa indie-rockers Holy White Hounds and Pittsburgh’s own Daily Grind.
This critical darling is much loved by fans for fronting ‘80s art-punk band Throwing Muses and later 50FOOTWAVE.
The latest tour finds the charming singer-songwriter from Atlanta on a solo acoustic tour supporting “Wyatt at the Coyote Palace,” a 24-track CD/ book combination similar to what she did for previous solo album “Crooked” and Throwing Muses’ 2013 release “Purgatory/Paradise.”
The album, “a collection of true stories and songs of love and loss,” is a melodic and dissonant dream-like journey into what BBC smartly described as her “dark and dizzy world.” The songs reflect a turbulent time in her life, while the album title was inspired by her son Wyatt’s fascination with an abandoned apartment building behind the studio inhabited by coyotes.
Among the sad developments of 2016 was the loss of Paul Kantner, the Jefferson Airplane founder who doggedly kept the Starship in orbit.
Keeping the memory alive is this extended family tribute featuring Starship guitarist Slick Aguilar (1992-2012), bassist Peter Kaukonen (younger brother of guitarist Jorma and member of the Jefferson Starship in the early ‘70s and then again in the ‘90s), drummer Prairie Prince (1992-2008) and Darby Slick, the former brother-in-the-law of Grace Slick who was in pre-Airplane band Great Society and wrote “Somebody to Love.” Handling the vocals will be Eva Avila and Joli Valenti, son of Quicksilver Messenger Service’s Dino Valenti.
Opening will be Live Dead 69, featuring former Grateful Dead pianist Tom Constanten with guitarist Mark Karan (Ratdog), Aguilar, Kaukonen and Prince performing the classic Dead live album.
Here comes the annual test of your tolerance for bombast and explosive spectacle. TSO people, you already know who you are...
Once again, the production is “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” originally presented as a Fox TV special about a runaway who breaks into an abandoned vaudeville theater where ghosts and spirits from the building’s past help her to turn her life around.
It’s up to you whether you wanna follow the plot or just glare at the lasers to lights to the sounds of "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24," "O’ Come All Ye Faithful," "Christmas Canon," "This Christmas Day” and other holiday favorites.
For the second straight year, the funky electro-rockers from Philadelphia (and Denver), popular at such festivals as Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, will greet the new year at Stage AE.
This will be the band’s first show since releasing “Eat the Light,” an album modeled rhythmically after “Remain in Light”-era Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem and the first from Lotus to feature vocals on every song.
“We just wanted to have an album that felt unified in that way,” bassist Jesse Miller told Billboard. “We like writing songs for singers, but since it's not a big part of our live show it's never something that we've ever gone all in on for a full album. To me it felt like natural progression from other things we're doing.”
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