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Hot Ticket: The Black Keys hit the big time

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Becky Burdette
This untitled watercolor by Becky Burdette will be featured at Lawrenceville's 'Art All Night.'
Woodville Plantation
Military drills at Woodville Plantation
Harper Smith
Saxophonist Boney James
Artwork by Linda Walken illustrates the play 'Ma Noah.'
Warner Bros. Records
The Black Keys

The Black Keys have always rocked. But it was pretty hard to see the two goofy-looking guys from Akron as rock stars, playing a potent but old-school style of stripped-down, heavy, blues-inflected garage-rock. Yet, here they are, headlining the biggest room in town, Consol Energy Center, on April 30, after taking home three Grammys earlier this year for best rock performance and song for “Lonely Boy” and album for “El Camino.”

What's more, psychedelic-rock weirdos the Flaming Lips are the opener, a status that they outgrew at least a decade ago. The Lips has a thrillingly weird and elaborate stage show, which typically begins with singer Wayne Coyne rolling over the crowd in a giant inflatable hamster ball. So, it will be interesting to see how they adapt to such a big space. It's also hard to imagine how their bleak, downbeat new album “The Terror” fits in with their typically off-the-wall, circuslike live show — but they'll think of something.

The show starts at 8 p.m. April 30. Tickets are $34.50-$47.50.

Details: 800-745-3000 or

— Michael Machosky

ART — All night long

Last year, Lawrenceville's annual “Art All Night” was one of the biggest ever, with 1,175 artists showing their work and more than 12,000 people attending.

Now in its 16th year, this grassroots event, which is totally free and open to all, promises to be even bigger. The nearly 24-hour event gets under way April 27 at 4 p.m. and runs through the wee hours to 2 p.m. April 28.

New this year is the Video Lounge in which visitors can watch short films, videos and animations running in a continuous loop.

Art All Night also will feature a wide variety of live performances, opportunities to create art on-site and a unique blend of visual art on display for the community.

Just like last year, the event will be at the giant warehouse at Willow Street Development, 40th and Willow streets in Lawrenceville.

Details: 412-235-1950 or

— Kurt Shaw

THEATER — Award-winning play ‘Ma Noah'

A single mother struggles to keep her teen and adult children from succumbing to drugs, unplanned pregnancy and unemployment in Mark Clayton Southers' drama, “Ma Noah.”

Drawing on her own resources, she invents a singular method to protect them from danger and hardship.

Southers' play won the 2004 Theodore Ward Prize at Columbia College and is published in the Northwestern Press anthology “Best Black Plays.”

Tracey Turner will direct Chrystal Bates, Bates' daughter Cheryl Bates-White and a trio of youthful performers in the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre's production of “Ma Noah,” which begins performances April 26 in the company's space on the third floor of 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

Performances are through May 12 at 9 p.m. April 26, 8 p.m. most Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays.

Admission is $20 to $25; $15 to $20 in advance. A $35 ticket on April 26 includes a post-performance wine-and-cheese reception.


— Alice T. Carter

JAZZ — Boney at the Byham

Boney James says he feels a little uncomfortable dealing with adjectives such as “fusion,” “smooth” or even “jazz.”

“I'm just a sax player who writes my own music and tries to have his own sound,” he says. “I don't even think smooth jazz is a music. It was just a radio station.”

James performs April 26 at the Byham Theater, Downtown, where he will do a concert centered on his current album, “The Beat.”

In the ‘80s, when he was shaping his career as a sideman with performers such as Randy Crawford, he was attracted to the jazz-rhythm-and-blues mix of Earth, Wind & Fire, the Crusaders and particularly Grover Washington Jr.

“Grover was the first light that went on over my head,” he says.

Since his first album in 1992, he says, he has tried to stay true to that musical mix and on “The Beat” incorporates some Latin and Brazilian material.

He is enthusiastic about this tour — which has 30 dates booked now — because the four musicians with him all know the music well.

Music begins at 8 p.m. Admission is $23 to $48.

Details: 412-456-6666 or

— Bob Karlovits

HISTORY — Re-enactment at Woodville

Tactical demonstrations, musket-firing and ceremonial drills will be part of a military re-enactment April 28 at the Woodville Plantation.

Members of Wayne's Fourth Sub-Legion from the First Army of the United States will perform the drills of Baron Friedrich von Steuben, the Prussian-born military leader who helped George Washington shape up the continental army.

Woodville Plantation was built in 1775 and was the home of John Neville, the tax collector who was at the center of the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.

The re-enactment will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission, which includes a house tour, is $5, or $3 for children 6 to 12.

Details: 412-221-0348 or

— Bob Karlovits

HIP HOP — Bigger than big, totally killer

Wiz Khalifa and a few others may beg to differ, but the hip-hop show of the year is Sunday, April 27 at Stage AEBig Boi and Killer Mike.

The two towering rappers from Atlanta are long-time associates, though they differ in style and substance. Big Boi is one half of the greatest rap duo of all time, Outkast. He's the guy who kept them tethered to real hip-hop while the other half, Andre 3000, pushed relentlessly beyond the limits of the genre. Killer Mike is one of hip-hop's most powerful voices, a throwback to smart, confrontational Public Enemy-era hip-hop who has managed to stay relevant after decades in the business, and is making his best music right now.

The pair will hit the stage at 7 p.m. April 28 on the North Shore. Tickets are $27.50 to $30. Details: 800-745-3000 or

— Michael Machosky

MUSIC — Banding together

Samuel R. Hazo, an educator, composer and band leader, will be the guest conductor April 27 of the all-star Festival Band at the annualThree Rivers Community Band Festival.

Hazo of McMurray, Washington County, has written symphonic compositions that have included readings by James Earl Jones, David Conrad and Richard Kiley. He has composed a piece honoring the people killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that will premiere in May.

The festival, which is at Upper St. Clair High School, is in its 10th year and will feature the East Winds Symphonic Band, the Community Band South and the Metropolitan Italian Symphonic Band, which has existed since the 1920s in the West Hills area.

Announcer Jim Cunningham from WQED-FM (89.3) will return as host of the event, which every year is a showcase for concert band music.

Music begins at 2:30 p.m. It is free. Details: 412-243-4553 or

— Bob Karlovits

THEATER — The dark side of The Bard

The BEAT Cabaret returns with its first themed event — “Shakespeare After Dark.”

Co-hosts Michael McGovern and Jennifer Schaupp will emcee performances that focus on Shakespeare's darker side, such as “Preparing Banquo,” a 10-minute play about Shakespearean ghosts; a special appearance by Richard III and a sneak preview of “Wm. Shakespeare's Cannibal Girls.”

Also offering Shakesepeare-inspired moments are local poets and actors who include Lori Howsare, Ashly Nagrant, Monica Lyde and Yvonne Hudson as Mrs. Shakespeare.

The cabaret begins at 8 p.m. April 27 at 4919 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. Admission is $10 at the door.

Details: 412-362-0274

— Alice T. Carter

MUSICAL — Arrangements, both musical and matrimonial

Playwright Varun Mahajan explores the custom of arranged marriages and the power of Indian women in his musical “Arranged Marriage.”

The musical, a tale of marriage and family, combines English dialogue with Indian music and dance in styles that range from classical kathak with rajasthani folk expressions, festive bhangra & gidha, and contemporary “Bollywood.”

To create the production, Mahajan traveled to India to work with composers and musicians to create and record the original score. Indian artists also designed and constructed authentic stage decorations, backdrops and costumes.

A presentation of Guiding Star Dance Foundation that promotes understanding of and appreciation for Indian art and culture, the musical features a cast of Indian and American artists.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. April 26 and 27 and 3 p.m. April 28 at the Charity Randall Theater in the Stephen Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Ave, Oakland. Admission is $20; $15 for seniors and students; $10 for age 12 and younger

Details: 800-838-3006 or

— Alice T. Carter

JAZZ — Funky jazz or jazzy funk?

Trumpeter Sean Jones and drummer Poogie Bell are a good set of guides to explore jazz and funk music.

They explored that path for Jazz Appreciation Month in 2010 and will hit the road again April 30 as “Jazz Meets Funk, Vol. II” wraps up this year's jazz celebration.

A big difference this time is bassist Walter Barnes, who plays with Toni Braxton's band, will be subbing for Dwayne Dolphin, who is touring overseas. Also sitting in will be alto saxophonist Tony Watson Jr. and keyboardist Brett Williams.

Funk has added a great deal to jazz over the past decades. From Miles Davis' version of “Human Nature” to Weather Report's “Black Market,” funk has given the music a driving, incessant beat without taking away from the improvisation that is the heart of the genre.

Jones says the band will be doing more original compositions this time as well as material from rhythm-and-blues saxophonist Kirk Whalum.

Music begins at 8 p.m. Admission is $30.75. Details: 412-456-6666 or

— Bob Karlovits

JAZZ — Triple-decker musical delights

International Jazz Day will be a three-story celebration April 30 at the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy on the North Side.

This is the second year for International Jazz Day, which is sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known as UNESCO, and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

The event on the North Side is co-sponsored by the pub and the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild.

Swing dancing, featuring a band led by drummerThomas Wendt and trumpeter Ben Benack III, will take place in the second-floor room. Meanwhile, Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi will perform in the basement concert space with drummer Roger Humphries, bassist Tony DePaolis and guitarist Marty Ashby.

On the first floor, streaming coverage of events earlier that day in Istanbul, the host city this year, will be televised between Roditi's two sets and after them.

Roditi will play at 7 and 9:30 p.m. and dancing will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is $20, which includes all three floors. Details: 412-322-0800 or

— Bob Karlovits

HISTORY — Steel City history can hit hard

Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney and historian Carol Peterson will celebrate the release of their new book May 1 at the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip District.

The pair have written “Allegheny City: A History of Pittsburgh's North Side” (University of Pittsburgh Press), which will be on sale for $24.95.

The pair will sign copies, but will not pose for pictures or autograph any Steelers or NFL memorabilia.

The event will start at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free. Details: 412-454-6373 or

— Bob Karlovits

JAZZ — The power and the musical glory

Jazz has found a steady following of believers at First Presbyterian Church, Downtown.

Since early this year, vespers on the last Thursday of the month have provided a way of using jazz as a route to meditation and prayer. On April 25, pianist Alton Merrell, a local performer busy with a number of area bands, will be the performer.

Light refreshments are served at 5, followed by scripture readings, prayer and music from 5:30 to 6 p.m.

The vespers are free. Details: 412-471-3436 or

— Bob Karlovits

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