As he approaches the final weekend of "Defending the Caveman," the one-man show in its second stint at CLO Cabaret this year, current caveman and native Texan John Venable has written an open love letter to Pittsburghers. His declaration of love includes the note, "I have really enjoyed my time here in Pittsburgh and will be talking your town up to anyone who will listen. Your support of the arts blows me away, and people are just downright friendly."
You can catch a last glimpse of Mr. Venable on stage in the comedy about relationships and themes that have been around since the dawn of man and woman. Performances at the Cabaret at Theater Square are 1 and 7:30 p.m. today (matinee menu info: 412-325-1582), 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $39.75-$44.75; pittsburghclo.org or 412-456-6666.
It's AFC North action in Pittsburgh this weekend, specifically Ravens Week.
Kicking off Friday will be a live television broadcast of EPSN's "Mike & Mike" show at Stage AE, North Shore, from 6 to 10 a.m. Friday. Admission is free and doors open at 5:30 a.m. There will be $5 breakfast sandwiches, free coffee complimentary of Dunkin Donuts, and a full cash bar available at 7 a.m.
On Sunday, Bill Crawford of the DVE Morning Show hosts the Official Steelers Tailgate at Stage AE with free admission and doors opening at 11 a.m. Fans can watch the game on the 16-foot outdoor screen or inside on the 20-foot screen. There will be Coors specials and $2 fresh pulled pork pig-roast sandwiches, with proceeds will benefiting the Art Rooney Scholarship Foundation.
Information: www.stageae.com or 412-229-5483.
The Center for Iranian Music at Carnegie Mellon University is putting on its first Persian Music Festival, a celebration of Iranian music through concerts and lectures.
The concerts will feature contemporary music (Kresge Recital Hall today at 1:30 p.m., free), a dialogue of Chinese and Iranian music (Kresge Recital Hall, Friday 8 p.m., $10-$35) and women of traditional Persian music (Mellon Institute Auditorium, Saturday 8 p.m., $10-$35). Information about other events is available at www.centerforiranianmusic.org.
As you well know, Hugh Laurie is not a doctor; he just played one on TV. He is, however, a real musician, along with being an actor.
In 2011, the pianist and star of "House" released "Let Them Talk," a celebration of New Orleans music with guest vocals from Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint and Tom Jones.
The Englishman has followed that with the newly released "Didn't It Rain," which turns his focus toward heartland blues, with songs by W.C. Handy and Jelly Roll Morton, as well as Dr. John and Alan Price of The Animals.
In a recent interview with the Tennessean, he talked about hearing a song by Willie Dixon on the radio when he was about 7. "From that moment on, I was just sold. ... It was like a thunder bolt, and I'm still shuddering from it even now, 50-odd years later, and will for the rest of my life."
He brings The Copper Bottom Band to Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead, Munhall, at 7:30 tonight. Tickets are $55-$75; www.librarymusichall.com or 412-368-5225.
Blues for Life
The 10th annual Sonny Pugar Memorial Rhythms of Life concert brings an all-star local lineup to The Meadows Racetrack & Casino tonight at 7. Performing will be (in order) Joel Lindsey; Jason Kendall; Stevee Wellons; Matt Barranti; Kenny Blake; Billy Price with Ian Arthurs & Harry Levicky; Johnny Angel and the Halos; The PGH Super Band with Tony Janflone, Jr., Shari Richards & Sputzy; Norm Nardini; Sabrina and Mark Matteo; Dallas Marks; and Granati Brothers.
There will be a silent auction, door prizes and a free buffet courtesy of the Meadows. Tickets are $20 advance, $25 at entry. It benefits "Music Smiles" -- underwriting paid live music performances in local hospitals. www.sonnypugar.org.
Kelly Strayhorn Theater welcomes back Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theatre Company in a collaboration with playwright Toshiki Okada titled "Zero Cost House." The idiosyncratic work is billed as "a meditation on how Henry David Thoreau's 'Walden' changed Mr. Okada's life; on the disruptions and re-imaginings that accompany a national disaster; and on the uneasy compromises between radical idealism and contemporary living."
Performances Friday and Saturday include a pre-show mixer with music and hors d'oeuvres by The Livermore. Doors open at 7 p.m. and show is 8 p.m. at the Kelly-Strayhorn, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. Tickets are $10-$20; kelly-strayhorn.org or 412-363-3000.
Smoke & Mystery
The Hillman Performing Arts Series will bring Nelson Illusions Smoke & Mystery Tour to the Hillman Center at the Shady Side Academy Senior School at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
This husband-wife-and-daughter team of master magicians present a show that blends mystery, drama, romance and comedy and carries more than 30,000 pounds of equipment, effects and illusions. Costumes are welcome to join the performers in their Victorian top hats, corsets and coats.
The campus is at 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, and can be purchased at www.thehillman.org or 412-968-3040.
Festival for the kids
The Oliver Miller Homestead in South Park has a pioneer day in store for the Children's Harvest Festival, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Children can play old-fashioned games such as the corn cob toss and ducking for apples, and try their hands at tin punching, churning butter, making church babies and writing with quill pens. Tussie mussies, fragrant bouquets of flowers and herbs, will be available for purchase.
Demonstrations include spinning, weaving, open-hearth cooking, and forge. In case of rain, the buildings will be open for tours and demonstrations.
Admission is $2; www.olivermiller.org or 412-835-1554.
The Steinway Society of Western Pennsylvania will feature Kirsten Taylor at a solo recital at 3 p.m. at Kresge Recital Hall, 5000 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Ms. Taylor is a Pittsburgh native and is certainly native to the music scene here. At age 11, she played a Mozart piano concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and as part of the Pittsburgh Concert Society. This time around, she will be performing works by Bach-Busoni, Brahms, Chopin and Michael Hersh.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for students and free for members and are available at the door. More at www.sswpa.org.
NEED TO KNOW
• Have you taken your selfie yet with the duck? If you haven't paid your visit to Florentijn Hofman's Rubber Duck Project, which debuted at the Point on Sept. 27, you have until Sunday to get there. After that, the duck floats on to its next destination.
• The Pittsburgh Improv plays host to comedian Mitch Fatel, a former "Howard Stern Show" intern who moved on to bigger things, and will surely talk a lot about sex. His new album is called "Public Displays of Perversion." Times are 8 tonight; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday; and 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday. Go to http://pittsburgh.improv.com/show.cfm?id=260688.
• The 19th annual Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts Christmas Festival takes place Friday through Sunday and Oct. 26-27 at the Washington County Fairgrounds with more than 230 vendor booths, musical performances, trolley rides, festival foods and more. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. $6; $1 kids 6-12. www.familyfestivals.com
• New music group Alia Music Pittsburgh will play in the Cathedral Concert Series of East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 116 S. Highland St., featuring the church's freshly renovated organ in a free concert of contemporary works. The 7 p.m. Sunday concert will feature works (including two premieres) by local composers Matt Aelmore, Aaron Brooks, Kerrith Livengood and Ramteen Sazegari. More at www.alia-musica.org.
• Guitarist Robben Ford, who has long straddled the worlds of blues and jazz, makes his way to the Rex Theater, South Side, at 8 p.m. Friday. Mr. Ford, who in the 1970s played with the L.A. Express and around whom the Yellowjackets formed in 1981, is touring behind his latest blues-focused release, "Bringing It Back Home." Tickets: $25 in advance and $30 at the door; Visit http://rex.greyareaprod.com or 412-381-6811.
First Published October 16, 2013 8:00 PM