Pianist Ahmad Jamal will be at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild's Jazz Hall at 8 p.m. Friday.
Zach the barber
Comedian Gary Owen, star of the film "Think Like a Man," is the main attraction at the Pittsburgh Improv this weekend.
Mr. Owen got his start in stand-up comedy when he was named "Funniest Serviceman in America" while stationed in San Diego with the Navy.
His credits include a recurring role as Zach the barber on Tyler Perry's "House of Payne" and he co-starred in the films "Daddy Day Care," "Rebound" and "Little Man." He also starred last season in Tru TV's funny video/sketch show series "Upload," which he co-hosts with Shaquille O'Neal.
Ebony magazine proclaimed him "Black America's Favorite White Comedian."
Held in conjunction with this is a free Great Race Expo at the David Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It will offer product sampling, health screenings, demonstrations and discounted sporting good sales.
Geek Pittsburgh, a local website that explores our own geek culture, plays host to an unofficial Pre-Con Party from 7 to 9 tonight at ToonSeum, 945 Liberty Ave., Downtown.
The Pre-Con Party -- a warm-up for the weekend's Pittsburgh Comicon at Monroeville Convention Center -- will feature a staged reading from selected scenes of "William Shakespeare's Star Wars," written by Portland, Ore., author Ian Doescher.
The event is free, but space is limited and attendees must be 21 years or older. Refreshments and light snacks will be served.
"ENOUGH Violence: Artists Speak Out," the new exhibition at the Society for Contemporary Craft, showcases works by 14 contemporary artists from around the globe, centering on the impact of violence in our cities and the role the arts can play in helping to provide solutions.
It opens Friday with a free public reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. On Saturday there will be a peace drum circle at noon, followed by a dialogue with the artists, where exhibiting artists will be on hand in SCC's galleries to talk about their work with visitors from 1 to 3 p.m. InterPlay, a performance troupe exploring narrative and movement, will be performing in the gallery throughout the afternoon. The exhibit continues through March 22.
The most recognizable musician in classical music returns to Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's "Once Upon a Time" gala at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Heinz Hall, Downtown.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma could play a C major scale and he'd likely still fill up halls around the world. On Friday, however, he'll play in Tchaikovsky's "Rococo Variations" and "Andante Cantabile." The PSO also will play other music inspired by fairy tales, including works by Dvorak, Humperdinck and Prokofiev.
The gala benefits the PSO's education and community engagement programs. Tickets are $40-$110; 412-392-4900 or pittsburghsymphony.org.
'17 Border Crossings'
"17 Border Crossings" by Thaddeus Phillips/Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental will be presented at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Collected in 15 years of international travel, the one-man show weaves together real adventures of international border crossings into a dramatic examination of imaginary lines, arbitrary passports and curious customs.
The preshow party will be at 7 p.m. Friday. For tickets -- $20; $15 for 15206 ZIP code residents and $10 for students/artists -- www.kelly-strayhorn.org.
Halloween is a month away, and already some haunted venues are operating in full force. Two of the biggies opening this weekend:
• Kennywood Park's Phantom Fright Nights kick off Friday and run every Friday and Saturday through Oct. 26, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., as well as Oct. 13, 7 to 11 p.m. Admission is $29.99 plus $1 amusement tax at the gate; $26.99 online or at Giant Eagle locations. Not recommended for children under 13. www.phantomfrightnights.com.
• The Scarehouse in Etna, also opening Friday and Saturday, includes three haunted attractions: Pittsburgh Zombies, Creepo's Christman in 3-D and The Forsaken. Also may be too intense for children under 13. Hours are 7 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays, 7 to 10 p.m. other days of the week Oct. 4-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27 and Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Admission is $19.99. New this year is The Basement, which allows no more than two guests at a time. Cost is $19.99 or $34.99 for two. Basement guests must be at least 18 and sign a waiver before entering. Tickets, information: www.scarehouse.com,
See more listings in next week's Weekend Mag.
Guitar shredder Joe Satriani, who arrives at Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead in Munhall on Sunday, is 14 albums into a career that began in 1986 and took off with his acclaimed second album, "Surfing With the Alien."
Premiere Guitar wrote of the new album, "Unstoppable Momentum," "For the Satriani army, this will be a welcome return to a stripped-down sound that relies a little less on futuristic themes and motifs and more on what inspired many of his followers -- a cool guitar plugged into a loud amp."
Mr. Satriani, who started playing guitar at 14 after the death of Jimi Hendrix, didn't see his career going in this instrumental rock direction. "When you look at things, it really is unbelievable how things turned out," he told the Charlotte News and Observer. "I thought I would play guitar in a four-piece, like Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin. I thought that would be as good as it would get."
On Sunday, he teams up with Steve Morse, whose resume contains stints with the Dixie Dregs and Kansas. The show is at 7:30 p.m. $52-$100; www.librarymusichall.com or 412-368-5225.
J. Cole and Wale
Rapper J. Cole, from Jay-Z's Roc Nation label, is riding high at the moment, having outsold Kanye West in the chart battle of their latest albums back in June.
"Born Sinner," described as a quieter, self-examining rap record that's short on audacity but long on workman-like singles," is the second major label record for J. Cole, spiked with guest spots by Miguel, Amber Coffman and Kendrick Lamar and TLC, among others. He actually moved up the date of the release to go head-to-head with Kanye, who topped the charts the first week but was since passed by Cole.
Asked about the success, he told Noisey, "I only get brief moments to appreciate things. I might get a two-minute thought of like, 'Wow, you really did sell more than Kanye. You currently have sold more records than Kanye West's ['Yeezus'] album, which came out the same day.' Then I'm back to focusing on what's next."
He headlines Stage AE with Wale on Sunday night. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $45; www.ticketmaster.com.
Music of Ireland and Scotland
We're still a ways away from St. Patrick's Day, but you can get your fix of Irish (and Scottish) music at "Two Sides of Celtic," opening this year's Tiffany concert series, sponsored by the Allegheny Historic Preservation Society, at Calvary United Methodist Church, Beech and Allegheny avenues, North Side. The concert will feature harpers Grainne Hambly and William Jackson and music spanning several centuries by such composers as Turlough O'Carolan, Thomas and William Connellan and Rory Dall. The performance starts at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5-$10 and available at the door; more at 412-323-1070.
NEED TO KNOW
• Altar Bar does back-to-back nights of hip-hop with alternative rappers Danny Brown and Action Bronson at 8 tonight ($22) and Harlem political rapper Immortal Technique at 8:30 p.m. Friday. $20-$25; www.thealtarbar.com.
• Black Rebel Motorcycle Club headlines Mr. Smalls on Sunday, touring on its sixth album, "Specter at the Feast," which NME called "far lusher and braver than anyone had any right to expect. The show is at 8 p.m. $20; ticketweb.com.
• The 35th annual Pow Wow brings singing, drumming, dancing, arts, crafts, museum and native foods to 120 Charles St., Indiana Township, from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Donation is $6; $4 kids under 12. Information: 412-782-4457 or www.cotraic.org.
• Wish You Were Here -- The Sight and Sound of Pink Floyd celebrates the 40th anniversary of "Dark Side of the Moon" and tosses in other Pink Floyd classics at Stage AE at 7:30 p.m. (doors) Saturday. Tickets are $15 to $20. www.ticketmaster.com.
• That's not all. Zoso -- The Ultimate Led Zeppelin hits Stage AE at 8 p.m. (doors) Friday. Tickets are $15. www.ticketmaster.com.
• Veteran Swedish metal band Katatonia is doing a dozen gigs in the U.S. supporting the new album "Dethroned & Uncrowned." The fourth one is at Mr. Smalls at 7 tonight with Cult of Luna. Tickets are $20 to $22; ticketweb.com.
• Celebrating Don Giovanni Records' 10th anniversary, label veterans Screaming Females and Waxahatchee are on the road together with newcomers Tenement, which it considers "the most underrated band in punk rock." They hit the Mr. Roboto Project, 5106 Penn Ave., Bloomfield, at 8 p.m. Friday. $8.
• Stillhouse Pickers, a Pittsburgh-based bluegrass group made up of Dave Hart, Craig Roberts, Jason Smurphat and Dallas Cheked, releases a new album, "Uncorked," with a show at Nied's Hotel in Lawrenceville at 7 p.m. Saturday. Slim Forsythe will join them for the festivities. Admission is free.
• Comedian, musician and Tony Award-nominated actor Stephen Lynch, known for songs mocking daily life and popular culture, will be at the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead in Munhall at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $29.50 in advance or $32 day of show, www.librarymusichall.com or 412-368-5225.
• Pianist Ahmad Jamal, an alumnus of Westinghouse High School, returns Friday to the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild's Jazz Hall to kick off the MCG jazz season. The concert begins at 8 p.m., and tickets are $55. www.mcgjazz.org or 412-322-0800.
• A touch of Oakland, Calif., comes to Greensburg as the legendary R&B band Tower of Power appears at the Palace Theatre on Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets: $40 and $45. www.thepalacetheatre.org or 724-836-8000.