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Hot picks: G. Love & Special Sauce, MLK Day events

| Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012

Art: An artist of a different color

Ryan McCormick has been painting since he was 9. Now 29, he has not slowed down despite the fact that he is colorblind. "Since I am red-green colorblind, I tend to have more contrast in my paintings, because I don't see as many in-between colors," he says.

From 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, you will be able to see the results when he unveils more than 20 original acrylic and oil paintings during the opening reception for the exhibit "Spirits of Pittsburgh" at Spinning Plate Gallery.

"The subject matter all has to do with Pittsburgh, whether it be the landscape, the people or a metaphorical representation of animals smoking cigarettes," McCormick says. The exhibit also includes drawings by Haley Rohlf.

The reception, which is free and open to the public, will include acoustic music by the Drabs.

The exhibit will remain on view through Jan. 31 and is available for viewing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, or by appointment. Spinning Plate Gallery is located at 5720 Friendship Ave., East Liberty.

Details: 517-862-1963.

— Kurt Shaw

Music: Stir in beats for tasty music

What is in that special sauce, actually?

G. Love & Special Sauce has been dumping generous helpings of blues, hip-hop, soul, second-line marches, funk and whatever else is laying around into the pot since 1994. For the most part, it's tasted pretty good -- singer/guitarist G. Love can write a catchy tune, and the band's playful, laidback swagger has helped them escape the '90s virtually unscathed.

G. Love & Special Sauce will be at Mr. Small's Theatre in Millvale, at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $20 to $25. Details: 866-468-3401.

— Michael Machosky

Music: No shame about Lemonheads

The Lemonheads, appearing Monday at The Club at Stage AE, have had at least 10 bass players and 12 drummers since the group emerged in the late 1980s from Boston. Amid all the chaos remains Evan Dando, the guitarist and singer who steered the Lemonheads from punk to pop. The band's best-known songs -- notably "It's a Shame About Ray" and "Into Your Arms" -- were hits in the early 1990s, and Dando became something of a teen idol.

He's more grizzled these days, but in something of a sentimental mood. The current tour will revisit the Lemonheads' circa 1992, with the band playing the album "It's a Shame About Ray" in its entirety.

Admission for the all ages 8 p.m. show is $15. The Shining Twins are the opening act.

Details: 800-745-3000 or .

— Rege Behe

Theater: Something is tragic in Denmark

To see or not to see?

There is no question, says Three Rivers Theatre Company.

The company wants everyone to come see its contemporary take on "Hamlet" Friday through Jan. 21 at Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus, 4000 University Drive, McKeesport.

The seasonal, self-producing, nonprofit theater is dedicated to fostering an appreciation for Shakespearean, classical and contemporary live theater. Three Rivers Theater Company moves Shakespeare's moody tragedy of death and deceit to the present with a king who is the don of a Denmark crime family.

Performances: Friday through Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays

Admission: $20, $10 for students with ID

Details: 412-926-8187 or .

— Alice T. Carter

Special event: Not just a day for MLK

On Monday, the Many Hands Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration will fill the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater with family-friendly activities and stage performances.

The theater, the Union Project and Pittsburgh Glass Center are collaborating with other community organizations to offer activities that begin with performances by Alumni Theater Company, Dreams of Hope, Hip Hop on L.O.C.K., Hope Academy, Neighborhood Academy and Visionary Dance Academy that run from noon to 4 p.m.

Activities such as storytelling, dramatic readings and creation of a community mosaic project will follow from 4 to 8 p.m.

At 4 p.m, Bike Pittsburgh, representatives from the Margaret G Rabb Foundation and Steel City Hoop Union will lead a one-mile peace march from the Kelly Strayhorn at 5941 Penn Ave. to the Union Project's headquarters at 801 North Negley Ave.

All of these activities are free and open to the public.

In cooperation with the celebration, the Pittsburgh Glass Center at 5472 Penn Ave., Garfield, will offer free glass-blowing demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as well as an optional $15 opportunity to create a glass bead or fused tile.

Details: 412-363-3000 or .

— Alice T. Carter

Music: Jazz it up

Tuesday's concerts at the Backstage Bar , Downtown, will be an all-evening study of top-flight jazz singing.

The shows that are part of a weekly series will feature Maureen Budway opening the evening with the Happy Hour event at 5 p.m. She teaches voice at Duquesne University and present her crystal-clear soprano in jazz and many other genres.

She will be followed at 8 p.m. by Clare Ascani , who sings with more of a mezzo voice.

The shows are part of the free series offered by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at the Theater Square performance site on Penn Avenue.

Details: 412-456-6666 or .

— Bob Karlovits

Music: Concert boasts premieres

Two world premieres will be featured at Saturday's concert by the League of Unsound Sound , which is being presented by the University of Pittsburgh's Music on the Edge concert series and the Andy Warhol Museum .

The ensemble was formed in Baltimore in 2010-11, and has been called "auditory adventurers" and "absolutely riveting." It performs improvisations and composed music.

The program will include the first performance of "Topographies: transit/dis(solve)" by the group's co-director David Smooke. The other premiere is Two Harmonies for viola, percussion and piano by Pitt composer Mathew Rosenblum, which will be performed with the video "Not Only" by Andrew Zientek.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Andy Warhol Museum, North Side. Admission is $20; $15 for students and seniors; $5 off if purchased in advance.

Details: 412-394-3353 or .

— Mark Kanny

Opera: Brown Bag goes international

Pittsburgh Opera' first Brown Bag concert of the new year will be devoted to dreams in many languages. People are invited to bring their lunch to the free event.

The program includes "Apres un reve" by Gabriel Faure, Elsa's Dream from "Lohengrin" by Richard Wagner, Don Magnifico's aria from "Cinderella" by Gioachino Rossini and three selections from "Hansel and Gretel," the opera by Engelbert Humperdinck that the opera will present complete starting at the end of January

The singers will include Juan Jose de Leon, Adam Fry, Suzanne Vinnik, Kyle Oliver and Alexandra Loutsion.

Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and the concert starts at noon Saturday at Pittsburgh Opera , Strip District. Admission is free.

Details: 412-281-0912 or .

— Mark Kanny

Music: Bass is base for Williams' new release

It seems incomprehensible that Keller Williams new album, "Bass," is his 17th. Released late in 2011, it continues a streak he started in 1994 of releasing albums with single-word titles.

That might seem like a gimmick, but the one-word titles are more than just affectations; each reflects the music Williams is into at the time. For "Bass," the concept is self-evident, as Williams plays only bass throughout the recording that delves mainly into funk and reggae.

Williams will perform Saturday at Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale. Admission for the 9 p.m. show is $22; $19.50 in advance.

Details: 412-821-4447 or .

-— Rege Behe

Music: Hillman Center welcomes Motown

Hillman Performing Arts Series will present The Platters & The Marvelette s in concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts , Shady Side Academy Senior School, 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel.

The Platters will perform their famous love ballads such as "Only You," "Unchained Melody" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." The Marvelettes will perform their hits including "Please Mr. Postman," "Beechwood 45789" and "Don't Mess with Bill."

Tickets are $35; $30 for senior citizens; and $25 for students.

Details: 412-968-3040.

— Sis Reola

Music: Bluegrass in Butler

Bluegrass music lovers won't want to miss the January Ice Jam from 7 to 11:30 p.m. Friday and 1 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday at the Butler Days Inn , Butler. A new band will take the stage every half hour performing traditional, contemporary and gospel bluegrass music.

The event is free, but donations are accepted to support bluegrass programming at WYEP radio station and Friends of Bluegrass in Need, providing money and emotional backing to the bluegrass community.

Details: .

— Sis Reola

Special event: Skating at Schenley

If it is Martin Luther King Day, it is time to go for a skate.

While those two activities might seem to be unrelated, that difference is Venture Outdoors' way of celebrating diversity.

The outdoor-activity advocacy group will again hold its observance of the legacy of the civil-rights leader Monday at the Schenley Park Skating Rink in Oakland.

The site will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. for a free skate with hot chocolate and doughnuts in the rink's shelter. If the weather is snowy enough, there also could be sledding and snowshoeing.

Details: 412-255-0564 or .

— Bob Karlovits

Kids: Children's Museum to honor King

The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh is celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with several special activities Saturday through Monday, when King's birthday is observed.

The museum's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration features theater, dance, music and more. Activities include dance performances by Hill Dance Academy Theatre at 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday; and a performance by the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble at 2 p.m. Sunday. On the Monday holiday, the Saturday Light Brigade Radio Show will present its annual "King for a Day" tribute from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tribute features readings from King's speeches. Drum ensemble Afrika Yetu performs at 1:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. Monday, and actor Greg Kenny will portray King at 12:30 p.m. in the one-man show, "I Have a Dream: A Conversation With a Friend."

All activities are included with museum admission of $12; $11 for ages 2 to 18. Details: 412-322-5058 or .

— Kellie B. Gormly

Special event: Skate with the mascots

Dozens of Pittsburgh-area mascots -- including the SteelMan, SteelDog, Penguin Iceburgh, the Pirate Parrot and the Pitt Panther -- will be joining fans on the ice on Saturday at the 25th annual Citiparks Mascot Skate event. The event from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Schenley Park Skating Rink in Oakland lets Pittsburghers skate with their favorite mascots, backed by music and a view of the Downtown skyline. Other participating mascots include the Steelers' Steely McBeam, the Eat'n Park Smiley Cookie and the Kennywood Kangaroo.

Admission is $4; $3 for age 17 and younger and 60 and older. Skate rental is $2.50, and skate-sharpening is $3.50.

Details: 412-422-6547 or .

— Kellie B. Gormly

Kids: Carnegie explores 'G' in exhibit

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History on Saturday is giving kids, ages 5 to 13, and their parents a chance to explore enormous creatures in the "M is for Museum" alphabetic exhibit.

The hourlong "G is for Gigantic" event -- part of the monthly "Mornings at the Museum" program -- begins at 9 a.m. Visitors can trace their outlines on big paper to see how they measure up to an albatross, giraffe or dinosaur. They can go on a scavenger hunt to find the smallest and biggest specimens on display in the Oakland museum's exhibit, and use microscopes and micropipettes to measure in miniature.

Registration for the program is required by Friday. Cost is $26 per adult/child pair; and $11 each for as many as two additional guests.

Details: 412-622-3131 or .

— Kellie B. Gormly

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