Wonderworks Music Festival.
Photo courtesy of WonderWorks Music Festival.

June is the biggest month of the year in Pittsburgh for festivals and outdoor music. The Allegheny County Summer Concert Series starts up on June 2 at the South Park Amphitheater with the Pittsburgh Opera, and on June 4 at Hartwood Acres with “The Voice” finalist and North Hills native Chris Jamison. And the Three Rivers Arts Festival runs from June 2 to 11 in the Cultural District.

Just announced, SouthSide Works’ free local concert series returns on June 16, continuing every Friday through Sept. 1. Formerly Music on the Mon, the series is now called Music on the Lawn, due to its relocation to the complex’s new Town Square located near the North Lot.

The first show features The 40 Acre Mule, LoRen, DJ Femi and Wade Anthony Jr. On July 7, Paging Doctor Moon and Rieko Safiyya perform as part of the Women Who Rock Showcase. 

All shows run from 6 to 9:30 p.m., rain or shine. Look for lawn games, as well as food vendors, cocktails from Spirit and beer from Levity Brewing.   

But that’s just the beginning of what promises to be a summer full of outdoor concerts.

WonderWorks adds local acts

The votes are in, and Kahone Concept and The Roof are the local acts selected to open the WonderWorks Music Festival at Hartwood Acres on May 27 and 28. Ben Kahone, aka Ben Orrvick, opens the festivities at 1:30 p.m. Saturday; Hozier is the headliner that night. 

“I’m super excited about WonderWorks,” Ben says. “It’s a chance to show the industry professionals outside of Pittsburgh what’s going on in the local scene.”

The Roof starts off Sunday’s show with a Grateful Dead/Santana vibe. Jason Mraz closes the festival. 

Single-day general admission tickets for Saturday are sold out, but general admission tickets and other options are still available for Sunday.

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Pride. Photo by Dan Costa.

Pittsburgh Pride Revolution: No Fear

June also is Pride Month, and the Pittsburgh area will be celebrating all month long. Pittsburgh Pride Revolution Weekend happens June 1 through 4, with free events in Homewood, on the North Side and in Bloomfield. 

On June 1, AIDS Free Pittsburgh hosts Too Hot For July, a dance party in front of Klvn Coffee Lab at 6600 Hamilton Ave. from 5 to 11 p.m. Look for live music and drag performers on June 2 from 1 to 7 p.m. and on June 3 after the Pride Parade (note the new parade route stepping off at noon at 11th and Liberty Downtown) at Allegheny Commons Park on the North Side. The live music and drag performances continue on June 4 in Bloomfield in front of Trace Brewing. More than 55 international, national and local artists will be performing at all of the Pride event locations.

The Zells perform at the Andy Warhol Museum’s Summer Sound Series on June 1. Photo courtesy of Lucky Bird Media.

Warhol Sound Series

Local bands The Zells and Late. will kick off the Andy Warhol Museum’s Summer Sound Series, presented in conjunction with The Government Center on June 1. The concert will be held outside on Silver Street, a recently renovated alley adjacent to the museum. 

The Zells, a high-energy group with a bit of a new wave sound, are Frank DiNardo, Jackson Rogers, Phil Kenbok, Roman Benty, and Tyler Gallagher. They’ve opened for Titus Andronicus and Archers of Loaf. Their most recent release is 2022’s “Ant Farm.” The Late., who are Corrie Anderson and Lisa Christopher, play guitar and keyboards, and are reminiscent of singer Mary Timony, according to the Warhol website. 

Buy tickets.

Juneteenth festival 

Pittsburgh celebrates Juneteenth with a three-day festival at Point State Park on June 16-19 presented by Stop The Violence Pittsburgh.

The music lineup for Juneteenth is packed with national acts, including Arrested Development, The Ohio Players and KRS-One

WAMO’s Sly Jock introduced hip hop to Pittsburgh radio. Photo courtesy of Mixcloud.

Interesting local angle though: Akil Esoon, a musician, educator and longtime fixture on the hip hop scene, has created a digital presentation of the history of Pittsburgh hip hop, which will be shown at the festival at around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 17. 

Esoon, whose latest group is Grxwn Fxlks, traces the genre locally back to the early ‘80s and Sly Jock, a WAMO disc jockey who was the first to bring rap and hip-hop to the local airwaves. Other early influencers featured are the late “Melle Mel” Plowden, who was in the 1985 movie, “Rappin‘” (filmed in Pittsburgh) and Esoon’s own band from the late ‘80s, Pensoulsinakup. Local heroes Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa are also included. 

DJ Schizo will accompany the show with audio clips of the artists, Esoon says. According to Juneteenth producer B. Marshall, hip hop pioneers in attendance will be brought onstage. 

Esoon has already screened his presentation for high schoolers from Westinghouse and other local schools. “I am happy to come to any community events I can,” he says.

Alyssa Hankey performs as part of Americana Dreams, a concert at the Thunderbird Music Hall and Cafe, on June 24. Photo courtesy Alyssa Hankey.

Americana Dreams

On June 24, Keystone Artist Connect presents Americana Dreams at the Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall, a “music and vintage showcase” co-hosted by Toll Gate Revival, a vintage store in Braddock. 

Local artists featured include Shane McLaughlin of Buffalo Rose and Howling Mob on the Front Porch Stage (in the cafe) starting at 5:30 p.m., with local and touring artists The Wildwoods, Alyssa Hankey, The Ghostwrite and Danny Rectenwald on the music hall stage at 8 p.m. 

Annette Bassett

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.