Etheridge top draw at Pittsburgh Pride Festival
By Bob Karlovits
Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 2:08 p.m.
Christine Bryan thinks a combination of events will make the Golden Triangle “just what downtowns are supposed to be” this weekend.
The final days of the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, games by the Pittsburgh Pirates and a concert by Melissa Etheridge as part of the Pittsburgh Pride celebration should easily top the crowds that jammed Downtown for a similar combination of events in 2011, she says.
Bryan is director of marketing for the Delta Foundation, the nonprofit that fosters interaction and understanding in the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender community. It sponsors Pittsburgh Pride, a 10-day festival that began last Friday and will wrap up on Sunday in Downtown.
The Saturday-night concert by Etheridge, a performer who came out as gay almost two decades ago, is the top show of Pittsburgh Pride Festival and Bryan says it already has sold 4,000 tickets. She expects it to easily top the crowd for the 2011 performance by Patti LaBelle.
Bryan believes Sunday's parade and PrideFest will draw more than the 67,000 people who came Downtown for the 2011 event.
The parade will march down the Boulevard of the Allies from Grant Street, and the accompanying PrideFest will feature more than 150 vendors on a closed-off part of Liberty Avenue between Sixth and 10th streets.
But, like the LaBelle show, the Etheridge concert is the focus of the weekend.
Etheridge, a multi-platinum performer, has never been one to back away from issues in her work. Her songs range from works of honesty such as “Yes I Am” to the global-warming warning, “I Need to Wake Up.”
She won the Songwriter of the Year award by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 1996 and has written an autobiography: “The Truth Is: My Life in Move and Music.”
Despite that honesty, Bryan says this is Etheridge's first appearance at a pridefest anywhere.
The ticketed concert will be on stage on Liberty Avenue between Ninth and 10th streets, and, Bryan says, it will be like last year's: no seats, to promote dancing.
From each ticket sold, $2 will be donated to the Harvey Milk Foundation, named after the first gay to be elected to office in California. His nephew, Stuart Milk, will be a guest at the event.
The time for the loosely scheduled, 90-minute show is about 8:45 p.m. Unlike the LaBelle concert, this show will not wait until after fireworks at the Pirates game.
But Bryan does joke about the Bucs providing a little competition this year anyway, even if there are not pyrotechnics. After the baseball game, there is a concert at PNC Park by Boyz II Men.
“But that's OK,” she says. “The more people Downtown, the better.”
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.
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