Photo courtesy of Jennifer Baron
By Alyse Horn
Take your lunch breaks sunny-side up every Wednesday this summer with the 7th Annual Solar Concert Series in front of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
From 12:15 to 1 p.m., this free event provides nine live musical performances powered by a solar-energy sound system during lunchtime.
A project by the SLB Radio Productions, Inc., Children’s Museum and the New Hazlett Theater, the performances are open to all ages and will run until August 27. Blending innovation and music, the series’ unique eco-friendly sound system captures the sun’s rays through solar panels, creating a more sustainable method of electricity than that used by traditional P.A. systems.
Also featured during the event will be “Cloud Arbor” by artist Ned Kahn. The outdoor installation featured 64 stainless still poles, each 32 feet tall that form a 28-foot square grid. Nozzles along the sculpture’s poles emit a gentle and refreshing mist, while forming a small cloud of fog and creating a dynamic event that engages visitors in the park’s built environments and natural surroundings.
Solar Concert Series 2014 Lineup
July 9: Brewer’s Row (unique alt-rock quintet with tight three-part harmonies)
Brewer’s Row takes its name from an attic practice space located steps away from a neighborhood Pittsburgh brewery. The Steel Town natives’ roots are recognizable in a repertoire of bittersweet melodies bound by layered choruses. Taking influence from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Patty Griffin, the resulting sound has been described as Rustbelt Americana. Singer-songwriter Nicholas Hohman shares the spotlight with his sister Leah, for a stirring mix of raw and sultry vocals, occasionally trading lines in emotionally captivating duets. Lending harmonies to the sibs’ soulful verses and leading on guitar is their father, Mark, who brings decades of rock & roll experience, including a stint with the 1960s rock band, Shredded Wheat. Rounding out the band’s full sound are Corry Drake on bass and Nick Conti on drums. For more information, click here.
July 16: The Josh & Gab Show (musical comedy duo with an anti-bullying message)
Gab Bonesso is a nationally renowned comedian, performer and comedy writer. Josh Verbanets is an award-winning songwriter, singer and musician. Together, they have developed a unique and unforgettable anti-bullying musical comedy program for students of all ages. Josh and Gab’s performances utilize humor, original songs, interactive exercises and energetic storytelling in a fun and heartfelt educational program. Watch for Josh and Gab at a school, community center or family-friendly event near you! For more information, click here.
July 23: Mike Why (beatboxer, vocalist and maker of funny sounds)
Mike Why is a one-man band without the band. Mike creates an emulated combination of spectacular drum grooves, rich bass, authentic “voicestruments,” and passionate, energetic singing made only through imagination and microphone—all looped live resulting in driving originals, popular music from today and songs from decades past. For more information, click here.
July 30: Eve & Tracy (acoustic duo with timeless melodies and lyrics)
Eve Goodman and Tracy Drach have been performing together since they met in the Pittsburgh musical troupe, The Riveting Rosies, in 2007. Independently they’ve both been performing since their teens: Tracy in Upstate New York and Eve in Boston. They share a love for old time jazz standards that Ella, Billie, Sarah, Rosemary, and many others made famous in the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s and beyond. Their musical duo blends Tracy’s rich, soulful and smoky vocals with Eve’s intricate guitar playing. Their originals, along with some well-chosen standards, feature timeless melodies and lyrics that are often more like witty repartee. For more information, click here.
August 6: Thoth Trio (jazz trio performing original and obscure instrumental jazz works)
Thoth Trio brings together three powerhouse players. Ben Opie is a fixture on Pittsburgh’s music scene. A brass, reeds and theremin player, Opie has collaborated with free jazz legend Anthony Braxton, and has composed for Water Shed 5tet, Coal Train, Umezu Trio and Dust & Feathers. In 2014, Opie debuted Concerto for Orkestra, an original symphony for jazz orchestra at the New Hazlett Theater. Paul Thompson is an in-demand musician for jazz performances and pit orchestras, has served as musical director for Maynard Ferguson, has performed in Stanley Turrentine’s quartet, and regularly plays and records with Salsamba and Billy Price. David Throckmorton is one of the most in-demand session players in Pittsburgh. He has toured the world and recorded with acclaimed musicians including Maynard Ferguson, Bill Deasy, Michael Glabicki (Rusted Root), and Dianne Schuur, and led the improv hip hop/drum and bass quintet, Beam. All three also play in the Sun Ra inspired big band, OPEK. For more information, click here.
August 13: Machete Kisumontao (Puerto Rican rebel rock & riot salsa)
Machete Kisumontao is a seven-piece Puerto Rican band from Pittsburgh that blends Puerto Rican rhythms and Afro-beat music through Afro-Latin percussion, horns and plugged instruments. They have performed extensively around Pittsburgh, energizing crowds with their mix of big band sounds, African roots style songs and salsa and dance-style music at the Latin American Caribbean Festival; benefits for schools in Bangladesh and Ghana; and at Go Tell It On the Mountain—a benefit for Climate Ground Zero. A versatile group that can adapt to any venue, Machete’s unique sound has awed parents and children alike at the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival, and many family friendly events around the city. They have performed at Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh Opera, Kelley Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh Winery, Sewickley Center for the Arts, and more. For more information, click here.
August 20: The Wreckids (folk duo with a touch of comedy)
The husband and wife acoustic duo of Sarah Siplak and Scott Roger Peterson, Pittsburgh-based The Wreckids combine acoustic guitar, viola, vocals and a host of additional instruments to create an easy-going, lively and contemporary folk sound. Equal parts comical and thoughtful, the duo pairs whimsical lyrics with beautiful lilting harmonies. Anyone who’s attended a Wreckids’ show will tell you they’re as much about what happens between the songs as the tunes themselves, as Scott and Sarah enjoy telling corny jokes and playfully ribbing each other Sonny and Cher style. For more information, click here.
August 27: Steve Pellegrino (standards, rock, folk and songs you don’t expect to hear on the accordion)
Multi-disciplinary artist Steve Pellegrino creates works spanning accordion music, experimental theatre, performance and video art. He is the recipient of grants and commissions and continues to create original trans-disciplinary works. The son of an immigrant Italian family, Pellegrino grew up in the Mon Valley, and says: “The accordion and songs I heard growing up are used as connective tissue to share a family history as it reveals moments in our social and cultural past in America since the 1920’s. It is as much a reminiscence of growing up in these times as a history lesson in the saga of one of America’s great industrial valleys.” For more information, click here.
Sarah Siplak contributed to this article.