Point State Park, Gateway Center, Cultural District
Through June 15
The 55th Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival (TRAF) is underway, and continuing through June 15th, with world-class, multi-disciplinary arts programming filling Downtown’s Point State Park, Gateway Center and Cultural District. Completely free and all within walking distance, TRAF features six more days packed with music, theater, dance, public art, gallery exhibitions, a signature visual artist market, hands-on cultural activities, and of course, plenty of festival food.
To help you navigate TRAF’s 67 performance groups, 750-plus artists, 11 public art installations and 338 artist market vendors, be sure to check our events feature, as well as our profile of top kid-friendly attractions. This week, we look to TRAF’s Dollar Bank Stage, to bring you some of the upcoming musical highlights for the festival’s culminating weekend.
Pre-game the weekend on Thursday, June 12th, with The Smithereens, who perform at 7:30 p.m. With more than three decades of rock ‘n’ roll in their arsenal, the active New Jersey-based band released its 13th studio album, 2011, on April 5th, 2011. In 2012, The Smithereens became the final band to ever perform at famed Bleecker Street nightclub Kenny’s Castaways in Greenwich Village, NYC, and in 2013, The Smithereens toured as support for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. The Smithereens first formed in 1980 with Pat DiNizio (vocals and guitar), Jim Babjak (guitar and vocals), Mike Mesaros (bass and vocals) and Dennis Diken (drums and percussion). The original lineup continued until 2006, when Mesaros left the band and Severo Jornacion took over on bass. The band has collaborated with numerous musicians in the studio and live, including The Kinks, Suzanne Vega, Belinda Carlisle and Graham Parker. Their 1990 hit single “A Girl Like You” was originally written to be the title track for Cameron Crowe’s 1989 feature film, Say Anything. On May 20th, The Smithereens released a collection of 23 covers of songs by iconic musicians such as T.Rex, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and The Kinks.
Kick it up a notch on Friday, June 13th, when soul performer Curtis Harding appears at 7:30 p.m. On tour supporting his debut album, Soul Power, just out in May 2014 on Los Angeles-based Burger Records, Harding is known for his talented and versatile vocals. A former back-up singer for CeeLo Green, Harding has also been a co-songwriter and performer in the garage-soul band Night Sun (along with Cole Alexander of Black Lips). Harding’s rich authentic sound and driving foot-stomping performances cull from a broad spectrum of musical influences, such as soul and R&B, as well as indie, garage, punk and surf rock. Born and raised in Saginaw, MI, Harding got his first taste of performing from his mother Dorothy, a traveling gospel performer who brought her son on the road with her and occasionally invited him on-stage to sing with her. Relocating to Atlanta, GA, he became part of CeeLo Green’s team, working as a back-up vocalist, adding vocal tracks to albums and co-writing material with Green. Harding’s vocals can also be heard on remixes by OutKast. Don’t miss Harding performing material from first full-length effort, Soul Power, amidst the backdrop of Point State Park and the downtown skyline.
A highlight of TRAF is singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams on Saturday, June 14th at 7:30 p.m. The three-time Grammy Award-winner released Blessed, her 10th studio album in 2011 on Lost Highway Records. The 12-track album, which debuted at number 15 on the Billboard 200, features guest appearances by Elvis Costello and Matthew Sweet. Born in 1953 in Lake Charles, LA, Williams rocketed to the spotlight with her 1998 Grammy Award-winning album, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Mercury/Polygram Records). Recorded in Nashville, TN, and Canoga Park, CA, and co-produced by Williams, the album features guest appearances by Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris, and reflects a distinct fusion of rock, blues, country and Americana sounds. Named “America’s best songwriter” by TIME magazine in 2002, Williams is celebrating her breakthrough 1988 album with a special 25th anniversary reissue, including remastered tracks and an unreleased live concert recording, new liner notes and never before seen photos.
Wrap your TRAF festivities on Sunday, June 15th, with a concert by the English musician, singer and songwriter Jake Bugg. Née Jake Edwin Charles Kennedy in 1994, Bugg released his self-titled debut album, co-written with songwriter Iain Archer, in 2012 on Mercury Records. He followed that up with the 12-track album, Shangri La, released in 2013, and produced by Rick Rubin in Los Angeles. One of five nominees for the 2013 Brit Award for “British Breakthrough Act,” Bugg’s musical influences include everything from Don McLean, Nick Drake and Johnny Cash to The Beatles, Oasis and Neil Young.