Pittsburgh summer music festival lineups from Punkapalooze to Pittonkatonk Anime Night

Pittsburgh summer music festival lineups from Punkapalooze to Pittonkatonk

Guest Piece by Annette Bassett; originally featured on NEXT Pittsburgh; first published on April 1, 2024

SamJAMwich is one of more than a dozen bands playing at Punkapalooza at Moondog’s on April 5 and 6. Left to right: Rocco Schiavone, Pat Lanips, Steve Staker and Tony Theil. Photo courtesy of Melissa Mason.

Finally it’s April, and we have the first big drop of the summer festival lineups. We’ve also got the success story of a local artist support agency; details on “Dinah,” a musical tribute to a great American jazz singer; and a brief look back at City Winery’s first year in town. Plus don’t forget Punkapalooza and Rumbleworld.

Punkapalooza returns to Moondog’s and the Starlite Lounge in Blawnox on April 5 and 6. Arguably it’s more like Jamband-palooza, featuring Fungus, Eleanor Walrus, SamJAMwich and many others. theCAUSE kicks things off at 6:30 Friday evening at Moondog’s, then it’s continuous music in both venues until 2 a.m. On Saturday, it’s nonstop bands at Starlite and Moondog’s from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday. Single-day and two-day tickets are available.

Another two-day event comes up the following weekend, April 11 and 12: Rumbleworld, a hip-hop extravaganza happening Thursday night at the Smiling Moose on the South Side, and The Forge Urban Winery in Homestead on Friday. The lineup varies night to night, but artists include Charlotte SupernaturalHari Upfront and Jamar Rose.


“Dinah,” a musical celebrating jazz, pop and blues singer Dinah Washington, returns to Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre after a successful run in 2015. Delana Flowers, who reprises the title role, says she’s approaching it differently this time.

“I’ve lived a lot in these nine years,” she notes. “I haven’t had nine husbands (as Washington reportedly did),” but Dinah, who died at age 39 in 1963, feels “more relatable.” 

Flowers, also a member of the vocal trio BGVS, recently did her first solo show at the Greer Cabaret Theater, and hopes to do more. She performs 24 songs in “Dinah,” backed by stellar local jazz players including Roger Humphries and Tony Campbell.  

“Dinah” plays April 5 through 28 at the Madison Arts Center in the Hill District. Tickets.

The crowd at the Vietnam Veterans Pavilion for last year’s Pittonkatonk festival. Photo courtesy of Pittonkatonk.

Pittonkatonk lineup announced

Pittonkatonk, Pittsburgh’s annual May Day festival, is back for its 11th year, this time with a twist, according to a post on the festival’s Instagram.

“Entering its milestone 11th year, Pittonkatonk has evolved from its roots as a branch of the Honk festivals to become an indispensable platform for cultural exchange,” the post says.

Pittonkatonk 2024 will be Saturday, May 11, at the Vietnam Veterans Pavilion in Schenley Park. This year’s performers are from places around the world, including Puerto Rico, Congo, Colombia, Palestine, Poland and Canada.

The full lineup includes Jupiter & Okwess, La Perla, El Laberinto Del Coco, Polky, A.Rob, 1Hood, Balafon West African Dance Ensemble, Eagleburger Band, Timbeleza and the May Day Marching Band.

Another change? The traditional potluck will swapped for a “selection of international food vendors.”

The Backyard Stage in the Cultural District during the 2023 festival. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.


Three Rivers Arts Festival 2024

The venerable Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival is back, from May 31 to June 9. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Pittsburgher who was pleased with the 2022 decision to move from Point State Park to Fort Duquesne Boulevard due to state park conservation rules. But it’s still a great city celebration with an excellent music lineup for this year.

Pokey LaFarge, a singer/songwriter with a throwback pop sound, is first on the festival’s main stage on May 31. Over the next nine evenings, performers include Los Lonely Boys, Ozomatli for your dancing pleasure, and Doom Flamingo, described as a “six-headed synthwave beast.”

Big names close out the festival on June 8 and 9: Legendary rap pioneers The Sugarhill Gang, along with The Furious Five featuring Grandmaster Mele Mel, hit the stage on Saturday, June 8. Time for a hip-hop history fact: Members of the Furious Five are credited with inventing the term “hip-hop.” Then Ben Folds, piano wizard and composer, closes the festival on Sunday night. Expect mega-crowds at both shows and probably Bill Peduto at Ben’s.


WonderWorks is not in the works for May

WonderWorks Music Festival — which featured Hozier, Jason Mraz, other national acts, and local artists The Roof and Kahone Concept at Hartwood Acres over Memorial Day weekend last year — has announced that the 2024 festival won’t be happening, at least not on May 25 and 26. In a recent statement, organizers said that the Wonder festivals in Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and other Midwest cities “may take place later than usual,” but they will continue. Those who bought early-bird tickets to WonderWorks can retain them or request a refund by April 12.  

Singer Meg Wills of The Anime Band will play at the Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks on May 25. Photo by Abigail McNatt Photography.


Anime Night in the Rocks

Anime Night, an adults-only celebration of all things anime, is happening May 25 at the Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks. The event includes music from Pittsburgh-based Anime Band and a cosplay costume contest. You can catch The Anime Band at a few other Pittsburgh-area gigs throughout the spring and summer — dates TBA.


Nick Marzock playing City Winery Pittsburgh in September 2023. Photo courtesy of City Winery.

Checking in at City Winery

It’s been almost a year since City Winery opened its Pittsburgh location, and marketing and programming manager Roy Martin-Smith says the city has responded well to the concept.

“We’re beating expectations,” he says. “We’ve found a niche.”

That niche is an older demographic that might not want to stand at Spirit or Bottlerocket Social Hall to see a show, Martin-Smith says. “People want to go to a place where they feel comfortable to sit and have a meal.

“We have a diverse group of shows — drag brunches, comedians and classic acts,” he adds.

Rhythm and blues shows have done well, as have ’90s and aughts artists like Matthew Sweet, Five For Fighting and Hawthorne Heights. Locals, including Billy Price and Joe Grushecky, and tribute bands like Yacht Rocket and Let’s Groove Tonight, have also filled the seats for evening and brunch.

Big names such as Steve Earle and Suzanne Vega are on tap in the coming months, as are bands paying tribute to The Eagles, REM, Prince, ABBA, and pretty much anyone on the “We Are The World” documentary. Among the more unusual upcoming events: Fulton Lee, who has amassed more than a million Instagram followers by creating songs on the spot, visits later this year.

Roy says he’s especially looking forward to the XX Radio Brunch with the Re-52s on June 2 during Pride weekend. Apparently, there is an excellent chance of hearing “Rock Lobster.” Check the calendar for more information.


Keystone Artist Connect expanding

Keystone Artist Connect, an entertainment management and consulting agency with a growing roster of local musicians, has taken its act on the road: It opened a second location in Austin last month during the South By Southwest Festival.

Keystone celebrated with a showcase at Arlyn Studios, the site of the long-gone but iconic Austin Opry House, owned by Willie Nelson in the 1970s. As its Texas office is off and running with in-town management and a handful of artists, Danielle Mashuda and her co-founder, Maddy Lafferty, have a busy Pittsburgh summer ahead of them. 

Keystone manages the WYEP Summer Festival, North Side Music Festival, outdoor music at Bakery Square, Music on the Lawn at Southside Works, and many other events. Its local artists include Paging Doctor Moon, Stone Throwers, Nick Guckert and Tiny Wars.

Lafferty admits to some surprise at the speed of the success: She started in the business wrapping cable at the Deutschtown Music Festival in 2018, and Keystone came together in 2022. 

“Where we are right now, we thought it was going to take a lot longer,” she says.

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