Justin Fabus, proud Dormont resident, is getting well known on the Nashville scene. He’ll be at the Drum Bar, Rivers Casino, Friday, June 24, then headlining Dormont Day at Dormont Park on July 4. Photo courtesy of Justin Fabus.

Dormont’s Justin Fabus: June 24 and July 4

Dormont resident Justin Fabus headlines his hometown’s Dormont Day celebration on July 4. It’s a thrill for a member of Keystone Oaks High School’s class of 2005, but Fabus is looking far beyond Dormont.

With limited local exposure, Fabus has leapfrogged to opening for country singer Trace Adkins and writing songs with ‘80s star Richard Marx. He recently met fans at Nashville’s annual CMA Fest. While there, he performed at the Concert for Love & Acceptance presented by GLAAD, along with Ty Herndon, Pam Tillis and others. 

Several of his songs have placed high on the iTunes Country Music Chart and his video for “Leavin’ Kind” has more than 9,000 views.

“I’m the best-kept secret in Pittsburgh,” Fabus jokes. “My name is more popular outside of town.” 

Last year, though, he sold out a holiday concert at Club Cafe

Though he’s finding success with country music, Justin counts Billy Joel as one of his main influences: “I have so much respect for him.”

Justin splits his time between Dormont and Atlanta, where his fiancee, Julie Grant, a former KDKA-TV reporter, works for Court TV. His primary goal: writing and recording a No. 1 hit.

In addition to his Fourth of July gig, Justin and his band play Rivers Casino on June 24. After some dates in Chicago and the Atlanta area, they’ll be back in town at the Crafthouse Stage & Grill in October. 

WYEP Summer Festival turns 25: June 24

Since 1998, WYEP has produced a summer music festival, usually on the last Saturday of June. When the festival moved from the North Shore to Schenley Plaza in 2008, it became a free event. 

Past headliners have included Sinead O’Connor, Jason Isbell and Fitz and the Tantrums (who play at Hartwood Acres on July 23 as part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series). 

This year’s no different: the 25th-anniversary edition of the festival happens on Saturday, June 24, starting around 3 p.m., at Schenley Plaza in Oakland. 

Local musicians Aryana Kapree (part of WYEP’s Reimagination Project), Animal Scream and The Ghost Club start off the show. Allison Ponthier and Illiterate Light are featured and soul singer Devon Gilfillian headlines. 

One of Pittsburgh’s favorites, DJ Femi, is putting together a killer lineup for SummaLumma 2, with DJs coming in from Detroit and Los Angeles to join the locals on Friday night, July 7, at Brillobox and the next night at Thunderbird Cafe. Photo courtesy of DJ Femi.

SummaLumma 2: July 7-8

Here’s a little-known fact about Summa Lumma 2, the DJ festival back for its second year on July 7 and 8: 

“I was thinking, ‘How can I have a birthday party without being corny,’” says DJ Femi (aka Bria), one of Pittsburgh’s most popular DJs and the creator of the event. Her birthday, July 11, became 7/11, which turned into SummaLumma. 

It was a big hit in 2022, so Femi expanded it to two nights: Friday at Brillobox and Saturday at Thunderbird Cafe. In addition to local DJs like Huny XO, Arie Cole and Wade Anthony, Femi’s bringing in folks from California, Detroit and more – 14 DJs in all.

“The DJ is the vibe. They create a performance,” Femi notes. She expects lots of Afrobeat and hip hop, but adds, “who knows what you might hear?” 

Femi says that they’re still looking for sponsors and volunteers for the festival.

Local acts brighten free county concerts: June 23, 25, 30 and July 9

Speaking of the county concerts, local artists are a big part of the lineups. 

On Friday, June 23, Jon Bindley and the Honky-Tonk Jukebox band relocate from Bloomfield to South Park for the evening, to play some George Jones and Hank Williams classics under the stars. 

That Sunday, June 25, the legendary Billy Price headlines at Hartwood. 

On June 30 in South Park and July 2 at Hartwood, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents its annual Fourth of July concert. 

Then there’s Joe Grushecky opening for Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (tip: that’s not an exaggeration) on July 9 at Hartwood. 

That’s just the next few weeks.

See the full schedule of the free Allegheny County Summer Concert Series.

Local rockers the Gotobeds play Friday night, July 14, at the HughShows Stage at the YMR Club, as part of the Northside Music Festival. Photo courtesy of the Gotobeds.

The North Side has music again: July 14-16

The inaugural Northside Music Festival (formerly Deutschtown Music Festival) kicks off on July 14 for three days of free music. Founder Ben Soltesz describes the lineup as an “embarrassment of riches.”  

Of the 65 bands set to play, all but two are local, Ben notes. The visitors, Good Looks from Austin and Sadurn from Philadelphia, are passing through on tour and agreed to play, he says. They’ll be joining local favorites like NASH.V.ILL, The Polkamaniacs, Woodland Creatures and many more. 

The Government Center has put together its own lineup for Friday and Saturday, featuring Odno Okno, The Zells and Crush Curl. Verdetto’s Bar and Restaurant hosts a local DJ showcase on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. That one’s 21+; most of the other shows are all ages. 

There’ll be nine different stages within the same neighborhood as the former Deutschtown Festival. Jim Beam, Wigle Whiskey, Thereadbare Cider and Pittsburgh Brewing are sponsors and will be selling beverages. Thirty food trucks, family-friendly activities, art vendors and all those tunes make for a guaranteed summer highlight. Thoughts and prayers for a dry weekend.

Steve Ludwig and the Casual Hobos open Calliope’s summer concert series at Schenley Plaza on Thursday, July 13, at 7 p.m. A donation of $15 is requested. Photo courtesy of Calliope.

Music under the sun and stars: July 13, Aug. 10, Sept. 14

A couple more outdoor concert options over the next few months: 

Calliope hosts a monthly show at Schenley Plaza, starting on July 13 at 7 p.m., with Steve Ludwig and the Casual Hobos. Mon Krewe brings the Cajun sounds on Aug. 10, and the Sweaty Already String Band wraps up the year on Sept. 14. The concerts are free, but a $15 donation is requested.

Featured performers for the 2023 Pittsburgh Black Music Festival running July 13-15 in Point State Park. Photos courtesy of Stop the Violence Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Black Music Festival: July 13-15

Three themed days of music will come to Point State Park on July 13-15 for the free Pittsburgh Black Music Festival. The family-friendly event also includes food purveyors, vendor booths showcasing local artists, DJs and speakers along Liberty Avenue.

July 13 is Jazz Tribute Day featuring Will Downing, Adam Hawley and The Black Byrds.
July 14 is Gospel Tribute Day featuring Karen Clark-Sheard, Le’ Andria Johnson and Dorinda Clark-Cole.
July 15 is RnB-Soul Tribute Day featuring MUSIQ Soulchild, Chante Moore and ROSE ROYCE.

Thunder Thursdays: through Oct. 12

Further north in Cheswick, the Pittsburgh Shrine Center is teaming up with Pittsburgh Brewing, Band Together Pittsburgh and Moondog’s to host Thunder Thursdays, with weekly concerts outdoors, but under cover in the open-air pavilion. They’ve got the Pierce Dipner Band, Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts, The Nied’s Hotel Band, and other local favorites. 

The Starlite Lounge has food available, and Pittsburgh Brewing hosts a full cash bar. It’s every Thursday at 7 p.m., through Oct. 12. 

And check this out: all ages pickup kickball games before the shows! Gotta love that.

Annette Bassett is a freelance writer and grant writer living in Bloomfield. She likes visiting local breweries, going to concerts and walking the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh while listening to audiobooks. She prefers wired earbuds.