Spring is here. Well, almost. Thaw out with some friends and check out these can’t-miss concerts coming to Pittsburgh in March. There’s Jersey punk, Japanese noise, and a four band mini-festival with some of the biggest names in alternative rock.

Leon Russell. Photo courtesy the artist.

Leon Russell

Tuesday, March 1. 8 p.m.

Altar Bar. 1620 Penn Ave.


Leon Russell has seen it all. Growing up in Tulsa, he played nightclubs with JJ Cale. Later he moved to LA and became part of Phil Spector’s “Wrecking Crew” of ace session musicians. Friendship and collaboration with George Harrison and Bob Dylan came next, as did a successful solo career and a stint as Joe Cocker’s bandleader. The next few decades weren’t as kind to Leon as the ’70s, but he experienced a late career resurgence in 2010 after his old pal and fellow ivory-tickler Elton John reached out to collaborate, the result of which, The Union, made it to #3 on the Billboard charts. He has since released a new solo album, 2014’s Life Journey.

Potty Mouth

Tuesday, March 1. 6:30 p.m.

Smiling Moose (upstairs). 1306 E Carson St.


It seems like all of my new favorite bands fall into the same mold: raw-edged and female-fronted. Bands like Dilly Dally, Tacocat, Bully, Priests, Dream Phone . . . Now, it is far too simplistic to slap a label on these bands and gloss over their distinctive styles, but there’s a tie that binds, or at least enough of one that you’ll likely hear them in short succession on Pandora. If you’re a fan of any of these bands, or Riot Grrl, or punk, (or good music in general, really), consider Potty Mouth. Formed at Smith College, the band is touring in support of their self-titled EP. Get there early to catch local noise punks, The Lopez.

Jason Isbell. Photo by David McClister.
Jason Isbell. Photo by David McClister.

Jason Isbell

Wednesday, March 2. 7:30 p.m.

Benedum Center. 237 7th St.


Lots of musicians leave their band for a shot at solo fame and freedom. But for every Peter Gabriel, there’s a Peter Criss. For every Neil Young, a Nick Jonas. Luckily for him, people seem to like Jason Isbell a lot on his own. The former Drive-By Trucker has reached new heights as a solo artist, including a Grammy for Best Americana album at last week’s Grammys for Something More than Free. Catch him at the stately Benedum.

Dressy Bessy

Tuesday, March 8. 8 p.m.

Club Cafe. 56-58 S 12th St.

$10 (21+)

From Denver, Dressy Bessy is best known for their association with Elephant 6, the ’60s psych-pop inspired collective that birthed bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, of Montreal, and the Apples in Stereo. Bessy guitarist John Hill is the longtime guitarist for Apples in Stereo, and it is not a stretch to say you’ll fall for Bessy if you like the Apples. That being said, lead guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Tammy Ealom always been wary of being mistaken for an Apples side project. Dressy Bessy produces bright and cheerful pop that’s been sped up and fuzzed out. They are touring in support of their first album in eight years, KINGSIZED. Don’t miss local openers Delicious Pastries, who have a show of their own coming up . . .

Dressy Bessy. Photo courtesy Yep Roc Records.
Dressy Bessy. Photo courtesy Yep Roc Records.

Delicious Pastries album release show

Friday, March 18. 9 p.m.

Spirit. 242 51st Street.

$10 (includes copy of new album), 21+

Sorry, Balloon Ride Fantasy, but Delicious Pastries has the best name of probably any band in Pittsburgh right now. It’s also fitting, given their predilection for sweet and tasty morsels of ’60s psych-pop, like those Elephant 6 bands we just talked about. The band is celebrating the release of their new album, Aleatoric Delay, their first since 2011’s Pretty Please. Sharing the stage with Delicious Pastries is Butterbirds and a pair of bands fresh off of album release shows of their own: Meeting of Important People and Shaky Shrines.

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.