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Arts & Entertainment

Hot picks: Carbon Leaf, Charlie Murphy, Yellow Dubmarine

| Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

Music: The classics can rock you

Crossover violinist David Garrett returns Sunday to the Cultural District on his Rock Symphonies II tour. A classically trained prodigy, his arrangements are said to mix "a little classical with a lot of rock."

Among the favorites Garrett will perform with his five-piece band are U2's "Vertigo," Aerosmith's "Walk this Way," Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," Metallica's "Master of Puppets," and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

The concert starts at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Benedum Center, Downtown. Admission is $30.50 to $43.50.

Details: 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org .

— Mark Kanny

Music: Grown from many roots

Carbon Leaf fits everywhere and nowhere. Drawing from folk, Celtic and bluegrass music, the five musicians from Richmond, Va., distill elements of these genres into a musical brew that has a quicksilver-like element. There's a little bit of the Grateful Dead, a dash of David Bromberg, a smidgen of the Flying Burrito Brothers in the mix.

Whatever the influences, the formula has worked for Carbon Leaf, which is celebrating 20 years together in 2012.

The band will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday at Club Cafe, South Side. Admission is $15.

Details: 866-468-3401 or www.ticketweb.com/clubcafe .

— Rege Behe

Art: That's some naif art

On Saturday evening, Pittsburgh artist PAVI, aka Patrick Vincent Courtenay, will launch "The American Genius Tour" with two performances -- at 6 and 9 p.m. -- at The Gallery On Baum in Oakland.

Since 1988, PAVI has maintained a reputation as a local "naif artist," showing only in the places he has lived in and around Pittsburgh. After much hesitation, he will release something he has coined "naif conceptual art."

A planned two-year national touring exhibit, comprised of PAVI's paintings and performances, will take you through movements in the arts, labor, transportation reform and finally a new form of neo-capitalism. Dates are set in Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, Mich., Chicago and Los Angeles, further shows will be added soon. See paviinternational.com for details.

Admission to Saturday's performances is $12. The Gallery On Baum is at 4643 Baum Blvd. in Oakland. Regular gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.

Details: 412-621-2286 or www.thegalleryonbaum.com .

— Kurt Shaw

Comedy: Charlie Murphy

Writer, actor and stand-up comedian Charlie Murphy has been on an extended "Acid Trip," which is the name he gave to his national comedy tour. It's been nearly 10 years since he played straight man to Dave Chappelle's indelibly demented impersonation of Rick James on "Chappelle's Show," but chances are he could flee to a Himalayan monastery and the monks there would say "Hey, Charlie Murphy! What did the five fingers say to the face?"

But since his 1989 film debut with brother Eddie in "Harlem Nights," he's gotten fairly steady acting work in such films as Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" and Chris Rock's hip-hop send-up "CB4." Most recently, he was a recurring character on the TBS comedy "All We There Yet?" He sometimes performs as one half of the Gibberish Brothers, an incomprehensible rap duo that also features his buddy Freeze Love.

He's just wrapped filming on "The Guys Who Move Furniture," which was written and produced by Mike Clattenburg of "Trailer Park Boys" fame. The film stars Will Sasso, who plays Curly in the upcoming film "The Three Stooges." Meanwhile, Murphy brings his trilby hat and shark's smile to the Pittsburgh Improv for a series of shows at 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $27.

Details: 412-462-5233 or www.improv.com.

— William Loeffler


Theater: Old stories through young eyes

Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks' "Bring Your Own Bard" series returns for its fourth season with an evening that focuses on "Shakespeare's Young 'Uns."

Non-actors are invited to join in the evening of informal scene readings by performing their favorite youth-inspired scenes and monologues from Shakespeare's plays.

Audience members and participants can show up with a monologue or scene ready to read, jump in and join another scene, or simply listen. Organizers provide extra readings for those inspired to participate at the last minute.

The popular, populist series is moving to a new night -- the last Monday of each month.

The readings begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Te Cafe, 2000 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill. Donations are accepted at the door.

Details: www.pittsburghshakespeare.com .

— Alice T. Carter

Music: Laughing at love

David Michael King surrounds himself with music at his work, and it shows in the songs the guitarist has written on his new EP, "Love and Other Punchlines."

By day, King is a music librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, but he also plays solo and with the Big Swan King, a trio that focuses on originals and early American songs. King also has appeared at places such as the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, Moondog's in Blawnox and at the Doo Dah Days, the celebration of Stephen Foster's music in Lawrenceville.

King will display the tangos, Motown sounds and blues that fill his extended-play disc at a release party Saturday evening at the Modern Formations Art Gallery in Garfield. Singer-songwriter Christopher Mark Jones will open the show and King will be accompanied by a full band.

Music begins at 7 p.m. at the gallery at 4919 Penn Ave. Admission is $5 and dinner is included. It is BYOB. Details: 412-478-5090 or www.davidmichaelking.com .

— Bob Karlovits

Music: King of conga

Conga player George Jones is trying to make his New Look Trio fresh in a couple of ways.

The most noticeable difference is the trio performs without the nearly-always-present drumset. Jones provides the percussive fuel only with his congas.

He is joined by pianist Alton Merrell and bassist Paul Thompson, and the three put together their original looks at jazz standards and Latin tunes. But they also are an outlet for original works, particularly that of Merrell "who creates some really great stuff," Jones says.

The band will be the 8 p.m. Tuesday guests at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's weekly jazz concerts at the Backstage Bar in the Theater Square performance center. The evening will open with a show by singer Michele Bensen. Both are free.

Details: 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org .

— Bob Karlovits

Music: Come and play together

It might not have the same resonance, but reconfiguring the Beatles' lyric "We all live in a yellow submarine" to "yellow dubmarine" does have a certain charm. As does the band Yellow Dubmarine. Hailing from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., the ensemble, appearing Friday at Mr. Small's Theatre in Millvale, recalibrates the Fab Four's sound using elements of ska, dub and reggae. The result is twofold: It showcase the wonderful rhythms of music from the islands, and reminds you of the brilliance of the Beatles as composers.

Also on the bill: See-I, Clinton Clegg & the Backstabbing Good People. Admission for the 8 p.m. all-ages show is $15.

Details: 866-468-3401 or www.ticketweb.com/mrsmalls .

— Rege Behe

Music: Let the good times play

Miss Tess makes music that would sound at home in any decade, in any venue -- writing new songs in a roots/Americana idiom harking back to the days before jazz, rockabilly, blues, country and folk went their separate ways. Miss Tess, wielding a 1940s archtop guitar, leads her crack band The Bon Ton Parade (sax, clarinet, stand-up bass, drums) through '30s jazz standards, Bessie Smith's protean blues, and her own originals that sound right at home between them.

Miss Tess & The Bon Ton Parade will be at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville, starting at 8 p.m. Friday. The Armadillos and Elliott Sussman open. Admission is $8. Details: 412-682-0177.

— Michael Machosky

Exhibit: Funky and 40

The Toonseum, Pittsburgh's own museum for cartoon art, is breaking in its newly expanded space Downtown with "Funky Turns 40: The Black Character Revolution," an exhibit starring original art and animation featuring "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids," "The Harlem Globetrotters," "The Jackson Five," "I Am the Greatest" and others.

The Saturday morning cartoons of the '70s reflected a massive social shift, as positive, non-stereotypical, easy-to-relate-to black cartoon characters began to show up for the first time.

To kick it off, there's a party from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Friday night, after the Downtown Gallery Crawl. DJ Buscrates will be spinning classic funk, and '70s attire is encouraged. Admission is $10, and for those 21 and older only.

Details: 412-232-0199.

— Michael Machosky

New voices in the spotlight

New plays from new voices are the focus of a new play festival produced by the University of Pittsburgh department of theater arts.

All of the festival's plays were written by current Pitt students or alumni who were enrolled in the department's playwriting classes. They were then developed through readings and workshops during the fall term.

The scripts range from lyrical explorations of first love and self-realization to dark representations of power and emotional struggles.

Titles and playwrights will be presented in two programs:

• "Psycho and Soma" by Anna Gilchrist, "Random Acts of Violence" by Fred Pelzer, "Bend Down My Strange Face" by Moira Quigley, "And This is How I Want It, and This is How It Will Be," by Ben Kaye run through Sunday

• "One Act" by Matt Russak and "Psycho and Soma" by Anna Gilchrist run Feb. 1 through 5.

Performances: 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays in the Studio Theatre, in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

Admission: $12, $8 for students

Details: 412-624-7529 or www.play.pitt.edu .

— Alice T. Carter


Kids: Let the Games begin

It might not be sunny and warm outside, but kids still can get together for good, active play.

You can take the kids to the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh to do just that Sunday, when local organization Obscure Games will bring some of its quirky activities to visitors. "We Can! Game Time with Obscure Games!" -- from 2 to 3 p.m. at the North Side museum -- features a series of new living-room games that family members and friends can play together. The Obscure Games activities include the body-bending "Touche Twister" and a kung-fu tag game. Sunday's event is part of the national "We Can!" program that promotes physical activity and healthy weight for children.

Also, if your children like wearing jeans, you can bring them Saturday to the museum, where they can enjoy the "Fancy Pants: Denim-Painting Workshop" event.

Kids age 7 and older and accompanied by an adult will need to bring a pair of jeans and a colorful imagination for the workshop, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the museum. An illustrator will begin the workshop with a behind-the-scenes talk. Children then will turn their jeans into a canvas and create their own art.

The workshop and the Obscure Games are free with museum admission of $12; $11 for ages 2-18. Advance reservations are required for the jeans workshop, though.

Details: 412-322-5058, ext. 201.

— Kellie B. Gormly

Kids: Sleuthing, sleepover at the Carnegie

Your aspiring detectives can try out their sleuthing skills at a Friday sleepover at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland. The "CSI: Carnegie Science Investigator" sleepover, kids can join a CSI team and help solve a mystery that takes place in the halls of the museum. Participants will solve the case by collecting evidence, and using their thinking skills.

The "CSI" sleepover is one of many upcoming Overnight Adventures at the museum. "All in One Night," on Feb. 3 and April 13, gives participants a hands-on, behind-the-scenes look at the museum's exhibits.

At "Nighttime on the Nile" on Feb. 24, kids will explore Egyptian civilization, check out the inside of a temple and make a scarab amulet.

Most Overnight Adventures begin at 7 p.m. Friday and last to 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Evening snacks and a continental breakfast are included with the $40 per person cost, and an adult chaperone is required for every one to five kids. Advance registration is required.

Details: 412-622-3289 or www.carnegiemnh.org .

— Kellie B. Gormly

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