Pittsburgh's First Night will be packed with acts
By The Tribune-Review
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:57 p.m.
In the six hours leading up to the new year, Downtown Pittsburgh will be alive with activity as the annual First Night celebration takes over the streets and many of the buildings in the Cultural District. All it takes is a button ($10; $8 in advance) and some good walking shoes to enjoy a full night of family-friendly entertainment.
Since adults and kids usually have different bedtimes, especially on New Year's Eve, First Night offers two fireworks shows: an early one for the kids, and then the finale to ring in 2013. The Dollar Bank Children's Fireworks kick off First Night at 6 p.m. The Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale, which includes the countdown to midnight and the rising of the ball, begins at 11:59 p.m., with the fireworks at midnight. Both fireworks displays come from New Castle, Lawrence County-based Zambelli Fireworks.
It wouldn't be New Year's Eve in Pittsburgh without the First Night Parade, featuring the giant puppets of local artist Cheryl Capezzuti. Leading the parade are her latest creations, the Light Sprites, which are illuminated to fit this year's “Light” theme. At the parade, which runs along Penn Avenue, you'll also see the decked-out works of Art Car artists, and listen to the music of groups including the Perry High School Marching Band, the Steelers Drum Line and the Oakland Catholic Step Team. The parade begins at 8 p.m. If you want to march in the parade, be at Tenth Street, under the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, at 7:30 p.m., where the parade crew will find you a puppet to carry.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band: The funeral of 2012 begins at 10:45 p.m. when the Dirty Dozen Brass Band gives a New Orleans sendoff to the old and blows in the new. The seven dudes in this freewheeling outfit got their start in 1977 and quickly broke from the pack by pushing beyond the foursquare boundaries of brass bands with forays into funk, soul, afro-Caribbean and blues. They can sound knotty and gnarled as an old tree root, or as rousing as a judgment day wake-up call. They'd be darn fools not to play “When the Saints Go Marching In,” which appears on their latest, “Twenty Dozen,” released earlier this year to celebrate the band's 35th anniversary.
Adam Brock: “American Idol” fans won't want to miss one of First Night's performers: Adam Brock of Washington County. Brock — who compared his style to Aretha Franklin's and calls himself “White Chocolate” — made it into the Top 24 of this year's “American Idol” and earned a lot of nationwide fans. He'll perform songs from the worlds of jazz, blues, soul, R&B and pop music with the seven-member band at 6 and 8:30 p.m., on the Dollar Bank Stage at Penn Avenue and Seventh Street.
House of Soul: With more than two decades keeping the flame of funk burning, House of Soul knows how to blast a hole in the roof. The Pittsburgh-based R&B collective is fronted by singers Iris Joy Brown and Wayne Barber, who croon, harmonize and trade repartee. The band doesn't skimp on instrumentation: They're powered by a solid rhythm section, keyboardist and three horn players. It's the kind of lineup that used to be the norm in the ‘70s. House of Soul brings those days back with two shows at the Benedum Center at 7:45 and 10:30 p.m. Voucher required.
River City Brass: James Gourley says the River City Brass performance at First Night will show some tempting flesh. “It's going be a raucous night of kilts, bare knees and bagpipe music,” he says about the band's Brasstacular. The band, he says, will be playing a collection of exciting, upbeat and fiery music to keep the crowd charged. “We have to keep it lively because we are doing 50 minutes — twice,” he says. The Scottish element will come from a tribute to the Proclaimers, the band that had perhaps its biggest hit with “I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles),” and are from Gourlay's hometown. The band will perform at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Byham Theater. Voucher required.
Young Brokaw: Pittsburgh-based rock band Young Brokaw is one of WYEP's top local bands of the year, which should tell you more about their sound than anything. It's bright, jangly, wordy, indie rock, with a poppy Bloomfield-via-Liverpool vibe. They'll be at the WYEP Music Station at 121 7th Street, for performances at 6:30 and 9:15 p.m.
Acoustic Cafe: If you like your music unplugged, then head to the AcoustiCafe at the August Wilson Center. A variety of local musicians, such as Joy Ike, Mark Dignam and Jeremy Colbert, will perform from 7 to 11 p.m.
Jazz performers at First Night might want to adopt “All Night Long” as their theme song.
Bassist Dwayne Dolphin will be leading his funky piccolo bass band from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Trust Arts Education Center, 805 Liberty Ave. He will be followed by Hubb's Groove, a smooth jazz band lead by drummer Robert Hubbard Jr. That band will play from 8:30 to 11 p.m. and feature a guest visit by trumpeter Sean Jones, who can make any act twice as good as it usually is.
Not far way, the Jazz at Andys Quintet will be performing — you guessed it — at Andys, the lounge off the lobby at the Fairmont Pittsburgh on Market Street. That band features pianist Daniel May and singer Tania Grubbs, along with drummer Thomas Wendt, bassist Jeff Grubbs, and guitarist Eric Susoeff. Music at Andys goes from 8:30 to 11 p.m.
The magical holiday season will end on First Night with four magic shows by magician Jason Hudy, who has performed for ESPN, Chevrolet, Hershey, and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” Hudy, who is joining First Night for the third straight year, will be performing tricks with mind reading, sleight of hand, and more. Kids can come on stage for some comical magic acts. Showtimes are at 6:15, 7:30, 9 and 10:30 p.m. at the Highmark Auditorium in Fifth Avenue Place, 120 5th Ave. Vouchers are required, but they are sold out. However, there may be room available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the door.
David Michael and Mike Wysocki: After the kind of year everybody seems to have had, we could all use a laugh. David Michael and Mike Wysocki bring the funny at two family friendly shows at Creative and Performing Arts School, 111 Ninth St. Michael has made a career out of clean comedy at Improvs and Funny Bone clubs across the country. Wysocki is a regular guest on the Morning Show on WDVE-FM. They have two shows at 7:45 and 10:30 p.m. Voucher required.
Arcade Comedy: The Arcade Comedy improvisational troupe bases its show on suggestions from the audience. They'll have two shows at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. at the Cabaret Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave. Voucher required.
Josh & Gab Show: If you're over 12, you may not have heard of the Josh & Gab Show. The local musical comedy duo is coming off a well-received fall tour of local elementary schools, where their high-energy show won over some of the toughest audiences since the Apollo Theater — third and fourth graders. Comedienne Gab Bonesso mugs, raps and sings like Gumby's little sister, while guitarist Josh Verganets lays down a rock beat. The two sneak serious messages into their sweet and silly songs. “Real Friend” is an anti-bullying song set to Justin Bieber's “Boyfriend.” Their single “Nine O'clock Behind the Jack Rabbit” has just been released and is for sale on iTunes. Their First Night shows — at 6:15, 7:30 and 9 p.m. at Bricolage, 937 Liberty Ave. — are for all ages, naturally.
Three dance groups will offer their own special lift to festivities Monday night, from elegant and athletic moves to others that will make you laugh.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School's pre-professional division will performed mixed repertoire featuring “Quattro a Verde,” choreographed by Michael Smuin and staged by Andre Reyes. The high school and graduate dancers will perform at 6:45 p.m. at the August Wilson Center. Voucher required.
Texture Contemporary Ballet will present excerpts from its repertoire, all with original choreography by Alan Obuzor and Kelsey Bartman, including “Hydroplaning Flower” and “The Pulse of Time.” The performances are at 8:30 and 9:45 p.m. at the August Wilson Center. Voucher required.
Combining contemporary dance, aerial art and movement, kNOT Dance will offer the best of the company's 2012 performances, including “kNOT Love” at 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. at the CAPA School.
Two groups of classical musicians will bring their genre-bursting spirit to Downtown celebrations Monday night.
Cello Fury's high-energy fusion of rock and classical creates amazing sounds with the amplified cello, performed with classically honed virtuosity. Cellists Simon Cummings, Ben Munoz and Nicole Myers and rock drummer David Throckmorton will perform at 6:45, 8:30 and 10 p.m. at the Trust Arts Education Center, 805 Liberty Ave.
The Freya String Quartet and Symbiotic Collusion Chamber Orchestra will present a program of “homegrown” music set with an art exhibit called “Wonder Bred” by Derek Reese. John Russel will perform art-pop music. The performances take place from 7 to 11 p.m. at 131 Seventh St.
World of Wonder: Theater artist Leland Faulkner will present World of Wonder shadow puppets. It is theater that charms audiences of all ages with the actor's imagination, the mime's skill and the conjurer's craft. Beginning with the amazing and lost art of shadowgraphs or hand shadows, Faulkner conjures up an amazing menagerie of silhouettes using only his hands. Performances are at 6:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. at CAPA School. Voucher required.
Classic Hollywood Trailers: If your weary dogs are barking on First Night, and you need to rest them a bit, you can find a curb to sit on. Or, you can head to the Harris Theater, Downtown — the art cinema owned by Pittsburgh Filmmakers — which will be showing classic Hollywood trailers for most of the night. Stop in, sit down, take it easy and watch 50 years' worth of trailers. Classic comedies, thrillers, science fiction, cult classics. No attention span needed.
Amber's Amazing Balloon Animals: Lions and tigers and 15-foot eagles? Oh my! That's what you're in for when Amber Liggett gets a hold of a set of balloons. What started as childhood curiosity for the 16-year-old West Bridgewater girl has evolved into both an artistic passion and a fun way to get a different twist on the new year. Amber, an honor student at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, returns to First Night to bend, stretch and contort long, skinny balloons into inflatable works of art that include monkeys, hats and other fun shapes. She'll be at Fifth Avenue Place from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Steel Town Fire: Nothing says “Happy New Year” like eye-pleasing images of torches being spun at a blurry pace. Steel Town Fire is Pittsburgh's premier fire performance troupe, and has become widely known for its dazzling display of poi-spinning fiery hula hoops and flaming scimitars. The group, started in 2006, blends dance with flaming instruments that are reminiscent of Polynesia. Performances are at 6:30, 7:30, 9 and 10 p.m. at Fire & Ice Plaza (Penn Avenue and 8th Street).
Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company: The company revives two 30-minute plays from its Theater Festival in Black and White, both of which were written and are performed by area artists. In “Straightening Combs,” playwright and actress Kim El uses spoken-word poetry, songs and short vignettes to expand on an intimate life journey seen through the eyes of a black female coming of age. Actor and playwright David Crawford's solo show “Poe's Last Night” features him as Edgar Allan Poe as he struggles through his last hours in what may be his greatest horror tale. Performances are at 7, 8:30 and 10 p.m. at 937 Liberty Ave.
“Story Spectacular”: Alison K. Babusci is always happy to tell you a story. The Pittsburgh-born artist, educator and professional storyteller has spent years collecting and creating stories that enthrall children and adults. Her “Story Spectacular!” will entertain and involve First Night attendees with an interactive program of thoughtful, funny folktales from around the world. Performances are at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Urban Pathways Charter School, Penn Avenue.
Alumni Theater Company: Young performers from the Alumni Theater Company offer their creative and energetic perspective on what it means to grow up as an artist in an urban environment. These youngsters will showcase their thoughts and talents in a high-energy show that unites the arts of hip-hop, Broadway, and pop culture in a stage show aimed at all ages. Performances are at 6:45 and 7:45 p.m. at CAPA School.
Spend the last night of 2012 being a jewelry designer or participating in Reuse-a-palooza. There will be Decoration Station events throughout the Cultural District where kids and adults can make crafts.
Individuals from Assemble are going to help people create bracelets and necklaces out of LED lights and batteries at the First National Bank Family Tent (Penn and Seventh). “You will learn about circuits and connections and LEDs and batteries,” says Nina Barbuto, executive director and creator of Assemble, a community space for arts and technology in Garfield (www.assemblepgh.org).
Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse will host a Decoration Station at Fifth Avenue Place.
There will be hands-on activities at the August Wilson Center with the Silk Screen Asian Arts organization and Pittsburgh Japanese Cultural Society; CAPA Schools with the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater's origami and glowing alphabet bracelets; and at Shaw Galleries at 805 Liberty Ave. The Decoration Stations are open from 6 to 10 p.m.
Scheduling for First Night
First Night activities kick off and end with fireworks. From 6 p.m. to midnight, there are dozens of acts and activities. Buttons, for $10 ($8 in advance), are required to attend the indoor events. Items marked with an * require an additional free voucher. Details: www.firstnightpgh.org
6 p.m., Dollar Bank Children's Fireworks Display, Dollar Bank Stage (Penn & 7th)
6-7:15 p.m., Adam Brock & The Soul Band, Dollar Bank Stage
6-10 p.m., Duo Espressivo, Courtyard Marriot (945 Penn Ave.)
6-11 p.m., Busk Pittsburgh Buskers, August Wilson Center (980 Liberty Ave.)
6-11 p.m., Hill Dancers by Douglas Cooper, Highmark Direct Truck (Penn & 9th)
6:15-7 p.m., Holden Puppets, Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh (212 9th St.)
6:15-7 p.m., The Josh & Gab Show, Bricolage (937 Liberty Ave.)
6:15-6:45 p.m., Magician Jason Hudy, Fifth Avenue Place *
6:15-7 p.m., World of Wonder, CAPA School (111 9th St.) *
6:30-8 p.m., Guaracha Latin Dance Band, CAPA School
6:30-8 p.m., Dwayne Dolphin Piccolo Bass Band, Trust Arts Education Center (805 Liberty Ave.)
6:30-7 p.m., Soul Line Dancing with Roland Ford, EQT Plaza (625 Liberty Ave.)
6:30-7 p.m., Steel Town Fire, Fire & Ice Plaza (Penn & 8th)
6:30-7 p.m., Story Spectacular with Alison K. Babusci, Urban Pathways Charter School (914, 923, 925, 927 Penn Ave.)
6:30-7:10 p.m., Arcade Comedy, Cabaret at Theater Square (655 Penn Ave.) *
6:30-7:15 p.m.,: Wil E. Tri & the Bluescasters, Fifth Avenue Place
6:30-7:15 p.m., Young Brokaw, WYEP Music Station (121 7th St.)
6:30-7:30 p.m., The Magic of Matt Sigler, Fifth Avenue Place
6:30-10:30 p.m., Amber's Amazing Balloon Animals, Fifth Avenue Place
6:30-11 p.m., Classic Movie Trailers, Harris Theater (809 Liberty Ave.)
6:30-11 p.m., FX Studio Face Painting & Associated Artists, Urban Pathways Charter School
6:30-11 p.m., Silk Screen various activities, August Wilson Center
6:45-7:10 p.m., Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, August Wilson Center *
6:45-7:15 p.m., Alumni Theater Company, CAPA School
6:45-7:30 p.m., Cello Fury, Trust Arts Education Center
6:45-7:45 p.m., House of Soul, Benedum Center (237 7th St.) *
7-7:29 p.m., Timbeleza, Heinz Hall Garden (Liberty & 6th)
7-8 p.m., Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company, 937 Liberty Ave.
7-11 p.m., Acousticafe, August Wilson Center
7:30-8 p.m., magician Jason Hudy, Fifth Avenue Place *
7:30-8 p.m., Story Spectacular with Alison K. Babusci, Urban Pathways Charter School
7:30-8 p.m., Steel Town Fire, Fire & Ice Plaza
7:30-8 p.m., Soul Line Dancing with Roland Ford, EQT Plaza
7:30-8:15 p.m., Broken Fences, WYEP Music Station (121 7th St.)
7:30-8:15 p.m., World of Wonder, CAPA School *
7:30-8:15 p.m., The Josh & Gab Show, Bricolage (937 Liberty Ave.)
7:30-8:15 p.m., Holden Puppets, Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh
7:30-11 p.m., Arthur Murray Dance Lessons, Arthur Murray Dance Studio (136 6th St.)
7:45-8:15 p.m., Alumni Theater Company, CAPA School
7:45-8:25 p.m., Comedians David Michael and Mike Wysocki, CAPA School *
7:45-8:25 p.m., Wil E. Tri & the Bluescasters, Fifth Avenue Place
8 p.m., First Night Parade, Penn Avenue
8-9 p.m., The Magic of Matt Sigler, Fifth Avenue Place
8-9:02 p.m., Jimmy Cvetic, Awesome Books (929 Liberty Ave.)
8:30-9:15 p.m., Texture Contemporary Ballet, August Wilson Center *
8:30-9:15 p.m., Cello Fury, Trust Arts Education Center
8:30-9:30 p.m., Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company, 937 Liberty Ave.
8:30-9:30 p.m., House of Soul, Benedum Center *
8:30-10 p.m., Adam Brock & The Soul Band, Dollar Bank Stage
8:30-10:30 p.m., Hubb's Groove, Trust Arts Education Center
8:30-10:30 p.m., Guaracha Latin Dance Band, CAPA School
8:30-11 p.m., Jazz at Andys Quintet, Fairmont Hotel (510 Market St.)
9-9:30 p.m., Steel Town Fire, Fire & Ice Plaza
9-9:30 p.m., Soul Line Dancing with Roland Ford, EQT Plaza
9-9:30 p.m., Magician Jason Hudy, Fifth Avenue Place *
9-9:45 p.m., Wil E. Tri & the Bluescasters, Fifth Avenue Place
9-9:45 p.m., World of Wonder, CAPA School *
9-9:45 p.m., The Josh & Gab Show, Bricolage (937 Liberty Ave.)
9:15-10 p.m., Young Brokaw, WYEP Music Station (121 7th St.)
9:30-10 p.m., kNOT Dance presents kNotty Follies, CAPA School
9:30-10:10 p.m., Arcade Comedy, Cabaret at Theater Square (655 Penn Ave.) *
9:30-10:15 p.m., Holden Puppets, Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh
9:30-10:30 p.m., The Magic of Matt Sigler, Fifth Avenue Place
9:30-10:31 p.m., Timbeleza, Heinz Hall Garden
9:45-10:30 p.m., Texture Contemporary Ballet, August Wilson Center *
10-10:30 p.m., Steel Town Fire, Fire & Ice Plaza
10-10:45 p.m., Cello Fury, Trust Arts Education Center
10-11 p.m., House of Soul, Benedum Center *
10-11 p.m., Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company (937 Liberty Ave.)
10:15-11 p.m., Broken Fences, WYEP Music Station (121 7th St.)
10:30-11 p.m., kNOT Dance presents kNotty Follies, CAPA School
10:30-11 p.m., magician Jason Hudy, Fifth Avenue Place *
10:30-11:10 p.m., Comedians David Michael and Mike Wysocki, CAPA School *
10:45 p.m.-12:10 a.m., Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Highmark Stage (Penn Avenue)
11:59 p.m., Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale fireworks, Highmark Stage
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