The Hot List of events for the coming weekend

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Monster truck love

Nothing says Valentine's Day like a good Monster Jam.

The monster trucks roll into Consol Energy Center today and wreak havoc above the Penguins ice through Sunday.

Grave Digger, Monster Mutt, Zombie and others will be back, along with the new kid on the block, the Iron Man truck.

The weekend begins with a free Monster Jam Superheroes & Sweethearts Valentine's Party today from 6 to 8 p.m., and families can enjoy free treats, crafts, face painters and balloon artists. Party attendees will be invited onto the track to meet the Iron Man Monster Jam truck and driver, Lee O'Donnell. For every person who attends the party, Monster Jam will donate one ticket to Tickets for Kids for the weekend event.

Monster Jam takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Party in the Pits 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); and 2 p.m. Sunday (Party in the Pits 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.). Tickets are $25 to $55;


EHE at Thunderbird

Chicago progressive jazz legends Ethnic Heritage Ensemble -- Kahil El-Zabar (percussion, vocals), Ernest Dawkins (saxophones), Corey Wilkes (trumpeter from Art Ensemble of Chicago) -- play a show at Thunderbird Cafe, Lawrenceville, at 6 tonight.

The group, in its fourth decade and one of the longest continuously playing groups in progressive jazz, factors into "Be Known," a new documentary film about the life and work of Mr. El-Zabar.

Tickets are $16 advance/$20 door at

J'Aira's 'Sweet Love'

Pittsburgh-based pianist and soul singer J'Aira Pryor brings "Sweet Love" to The Hill House Association Kaufmann Center, 1825 Centre Ave., Hill District, tonight at 7:30.

The singer, who has performed at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, has a range that runs from classical piano to gospel, pop and R&B. Joining her will be comedian Deidre Lesesne (aka Comma'Dee), poet-actor Leslie "Ezra" Smith, saxophonist Calvin Stemley and singer Hakim Rasheed. Tickets are $15; 412-371-3412.

Mollie and Rich

Folk duo Mollie O'Brien and Rich Moore dip into the songbooks of Tom Paxton, Robin and Linda Williams, Dave Van Ronk and Randy Newman on their new album, "Love Runner."

They play the Roots Cellar, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Shadyside, with Eric Thorin at 7:30 tonight. Tickets are $28, $12 with student ID; or 412-361-1915.


Acoustic Kryptonite

Ever want to hear the acoustic version of "Kryptonite" live?

It will be part of 3 Doors Down's "Songs From the Basement" acoustic tour show at Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland, at 8 p.m. Friday. The band, originally from Mississippi, tried out the concept in its adopted hometown, and it went too well to stop there.

Said singer Brad Arnold, "We experimented with an acoustic show in Nashville and had such a great response that we decided to take it on the road. We've never toured like this before; some of these songs have never been played live."

The band is five albums into a career that started in 1995. Its "Greatest Hits" set in late 2012 was followed by tours with Daughtry, its first visit to Russia and an appearance in Dubai.

Tickets are $39.50;


Mass Affair

The name "A Mass Affair -- French Kiss" may sound a bit raunchy, but we promise it's not. That's the title of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh's concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, Downtown.

The idea of the concert is to marry two French composers' takes on the requiems, by juxtaposing Gabriel Faure's Kyrie with Maurice Durufle's Kyrie, the former's Credo with the latter's Credo, and so on.

Artistic director Thomas W. Douglas said of the pairing, in a release, "These two French master composers each provided stunning choral versions of the Requiem mass celebration. ... The totality offers a full concert of beautiful, moving French music, and the comparisons will enable the audience and singers alike to be swept up in these terrific pieces."

Tickets are $10-$30 at or 1-888-718-4253.


Bach and pops

Nobody sets a higher standard than Bach. Violinist Ingrid Matthews and harpsichordist Byron Schenkman, who have played together for more than two decades, will perform "The Bach Standard," featuring a set of the composer's sonatas, presented by Renaissance and Baroque. This concert features Bach's Sonatas in G Major, B Minor and A Major and English Suite No. 2. The concert starts at 8 p.m. at Synod Hall, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$35, at or 412-361-2048.

• "Love Is in the Air" this weekend, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is honoring that notion with an 8 p.m. pops concert of the same name at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in New Castle. Assistant conductor Fawzi Haimor leads the orchestra and vocalists Christiane Noll and Hugh Panaro in romantic tunes from "The Phantom of the Opera," "Star Wars," "West Side Story," "Les Miserables" and more. Tickets are $16-$59; 1-800-743-8560 or

Cults rock

Cults, a fuzz-pop band from Manhattan, caused a stir with a self-titled 2011 debut that landed on Pitchfork's Top 50 list. In October, the band followed that with "Static," a well-received follow-up dealing with the breakup of principals Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion. Cults plays Mr. Smalls at 8 p.m. Saturday. $15;


Power of love

A new exhibit celebrating the power of love and forgiveness premieres at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh on Saturday. "XOXO: An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness" was designed by the museum to explore the concepts of love and forgiveness through a series of interactive experiences.

Activities include having visitors write down a loving thought that is then pressed into a token they can keep or give away. Or they can write down things that make them angry or sad and run the paper through a shredder.

Opening weekend activities include performances of "The Gift" by The Zany Umbrella Circus at 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and "Love Letters," in which guest artist Dalia Shevin will lead a session on handwritten letters. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Information:


Beethoven on the Bluff

The first season of Beethoven on the Bluff closes with a performance by pianist David Allen Wehr, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley and PSO principal cellist Anne Martindale Williams.

The concert includes three Sonatas for Violin and Piano op. 30, nos. 6-8 and Sonata No. 3 for Cello and Piano, op. 69, all by the series' namesake composer. It starts at 3 p.m. at PNC Recital Hall at the Mary Pappert School of Music, Duquesne University. Suggested donation is $10; more at


• The spotlight is on the flamingoes at the National Aviary this weekend. FlamingoFest features trainer talks and activities including stories, crafts and a choreographed flamingo dance. FlamingoFest hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday through Monday.

• The Pittsburgh Song Collaborative will showcase pianist Benjamin Binder with soprano Laura Knoop Very, tenor Joseph Gaines and pianist Karen Roethlisberger Verm at 7:30 p.m. Friday at PNC Recital Hall, Mary Pappert School of Music, Duquesne University. Suggested donation is $10.

Shen Yun Performing Arts will bring the essence of ancient Chinese culture to the Benedum Center, Downtown, through classical Chinese dance and music. The show incorporates ethnic and folk dance choreography and dazzling visuals to tell stories of Chinese legends past and modern. It is at 7:30 Wednesday and next Thursday. Tickets: or 412-456-6666. Information:

Reggie and the Full Effect, the one-man band of veteran emo-rocker James Dewees (Get Up Kids, Coalesce), hits Altar Bar at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $13.50-$16;

• Organist John Scott will perform a concert presented by the Organ Artists Series of Pittsburgh and Ross P. Cafaro Jr. at 4 p.m. Sunday at St. Paul Cathedral, 108 N. Dithridge St., Oakland. The English-born Mr. Scott, who is director of music at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City, will perform on the church's 1962 Rudolf von Beckerath organ. The recital features works by Sweelinck, Buxtehude, Bach, Schumann, Dupre and others. A reception will follow. Tickets are $12, $5 for students, at or 412-242-2787.

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