Hartwood Acres sets summer concert schedule
Mark your calendars, music lovers.
Singer Rickie Lee Jones, the jazz Yellowjackets and fiddler Sara Watkins are among Grammy Award nominees and winners booked to perform this summer at Hartwood Acres.
Local singer-songwriter Bill Deasy of Oakmont — director of special events for Allegheny County — lined up the acts with a goal to offer a smorgasbord of musical styles for all ages and tastes.
Strangers to co-workers suggested some of the artists scheduled to visit 600-acre Hartwood Acres, which straddles Hampton and Indiana townships.
“The concerts are a great way for people to discover Hartwood Acres. It's really a beautiful park,” Deasy said. “It's really gratifying for me to see families just having a good time, every week.”
Deasy also feels gratified about booking Rickie Lee Jones' upcoming Aug. 25 concert at Hartwood.
“I had something else and it fell through ... I was kind of scrambling ... An agent suggested Rickie Lee,” Deasy said. “I quickly found some video of her. It was a 2011 performance in England, and it was beautiful, and I could tell she was still at the top of her game. So I jumped at it.”
Jones performs “Sympathy for the Devil,” “The Weight” and “Catch the Wind” among 10 hits by other artists on her latest album, “The Devil You Know,” released last year.
Next month, the Pittsburgh Opera will open Hartwood's concert season on June 2.
Guitarist, singer and songwriter Bob Mould, who performs June 9, “was in a legendary alternative rock band called Husker Du,” Deasy said. “He has a lot of artistic credibility. He'll play electric guitar and sing. He'll be by himself. He has a little bit of edge.”
Deasy loves the contrast in artists slated to perform at Hartwood.
“It's so fun to have the opera one week, and Bob Mould the next week,” he said. “How completely random and awesome is that? And yet a lot of the same people will come to both of those concerts.”
For oldies fans, the Vogues will perform June 16 after a Father's Day car cruise.
Langhorne Slim & the Law will perform June 23.
“He's just breaking right now, but in a year, everybody will know him,” Deasy said. “He reminds me of a young, fun, rock and roll Bob Dylan.”
Bluegrass artist Sara Watkins, formerly of the Grammy Award-winning band Nickel Creek, will perform June 30. Watkins, who plays fiddle, ukulele and guitar, performed on the Nickel Creek album “This Side,” which won the 2003 Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
“She's actually on a tour with Jackson Browne,” Deasy said.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will perform July 7.
“That'll be a gigantic home run,” Deasy said. “That's always a packed field and really beautiful night.”
Deasy expects many out-of-town folks to show up for the Celtic folk rock band Great Big Sea, which will perform July 14.
“They have a big cult following. They'll draw people from other states,” Deasy said. “They're just great. They've been around forever.”
The Pittsburgh Blues Festival — a fundraiser for the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank — will present more than 10 national and local groups on July 19, 20 and 21, including: Big Sam's Funky Nation; the Slide Brothers; Los Lonely Boys; Joe Louis Walker, Eric Lindell; Gina Sicilia; Tab Benoit, the Nighthawks with Billy Price; and J.D. McPherson. Tickets are available by calling 412-460-2583.
Joy Ike will perform with Johnny Miller on July 28.
“She's really kind of rising star in Pittsburgh. She's local. She has a new record out,” Deasy said. “She's really a quality artist. She plays piano. She's a great singer, and really a fresh, new talent. “
BYN Mellon Jazz will present the Yellowjackets on Aug. 4.
“They're a pretty world famous jazz band,” Deasy said. “They've been around forever. That'll be a great, big concert.”
The funk bank Galactic will perform Aug. 11. Deasy loosely likened Galactic to a Phish-type jam band with a George Clinton-style twist.
The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater will perform Aug. 18.
The season-closing Allegheny County Music Festival on Sept. 1 will present Rusted Root with special guest Joel Plaskett. Proceeds will benefit young people served by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Family Division's Juvenile Section. The requested donation is $20 per car.
Admission to all the other concerts is free, except for the Pittsburgh Blues Festival.
A complete schedule of the Hartwood concerts — and other free, county-sponsored concerts at South Park Amphitheater — is available at the Allegheny County's online site: www.alleghenycounty.us/summer. For more information, call the Allegheny County Special Events Office at 412-350-2528.
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.