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Short List: Week of January 13 - 20

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Off work for Martin Luther King Jr. Day? After you've reread "Letter From Birmingham Jail," or dialed up one of King's epochal speeches online, get out and do what the man himself would prefer (assuming that you're not already busy organizing the poor for social reform): Engage your community. This Jan. 17, Pittsburgh offers multiple, mostly free and typically all-ages opportunities to do just that. The earliest might be the Pittsburgh Glass Center's open-house Family Fun Day (10 a.m.-4 p.m.). The glass-blowing and flame-working demonstrations are free, though it costs $15 to make your own glass bead or fused tile (5472 Penn Ave., Friendship, 412-365-2145). Afterward, celebrate community outdoors with the ninth annual MLK Jr. Day in the Park (1-4 p.m.). Venture Outdoors and the Student Conservation Association sponsor this event at the Schenley Park Ice Rink, with free ice-skating, refreshments, snowshoeing (weather permitting) and crafts (412-255-0564, x.1 or info@ventureoutdoors.org). If indoors is more your style, the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater offers "I'm Making Peace With ..." (2-4 p.m.). The free program includes performances by Dreams of Hope, the YMCA Westinghouse Lighthouse Project, Pittsburgh Black Theater Dance Ensemble, the theater's own Alumni Theater Company and African drumming group ABAFASI; there's also craft-making in the lobby. Later, the Union Project hosts its own MLK Day Celebration (4-8 p.m.). After you've checked out the UP's recently completed stained-glass restoration, join in the community-building 1,000 Birds Project: make your own small ceramic bird, or get your picture taken holding one to help create a photographic mural. Meanwhile, enjoy live music, storytelling, book giveaways, tours and a community meal (801 N. Negley Ave., Highland Park; 412-363-4550). Finally, at 9 p.m., the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern (4412 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield; 412-682-8611) hosts the venerable Martin Luther King Benefit Concert. Ten acts -- including Evan Knauer, Phat ManDee, Bob Ziller, Ben Shannon, Emily Rodgers Band, Eighth Whale, Funk Gingers, Callan, Ethan Winograd+Justin Brown and Duane Jones -- perform to honor King's legacy. Donations benefit activist Vince Eirene's Duncan Porter House of Hospitality and Resistance. Bill O'Driscoll All events Mon., Jan. 17.

 

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IMAGES COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY STUDIOS/STUDIO GHIBLI PRODUCTIONS
  • Images courtesy of Walt Disney Studios/Studio Ghibli Productions

Thu., Jan. 13 -- Film

Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese animator revered for films including his Academy Award-winning Spirited Away (2001), turned 70 last week. To celebrate, the Toonseum holds a mini-festival of his earlier work. It starts tonight, with 1986's Castle in the Sky, an airborne adventure that like much of Miyazaki's work features a young female hero. My Neighbor Totoro (1988), about two girls' relationship with a gentle forest spirit, screens Jan. 22. The series, as viewed on the Toonseum's large-screen projection system, concludes with Miyazaki's 1997 masterpiece, Princess Mononoke, depicting an epochal showdown between nature and human exploiters. All three films are suitable for all ages. Bill O'Driscoll 7 p.m. 945 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free. 412-232-0199 or www.toonseum.com

 

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Fri., Jan. 14 -- Art

Before they joined Rusted Root, they were budding visual artists. As members of Rusted Root, they designed much of the artwork that graced the nationally touring band's records, posters and T-shirts. And after leaving Rusted Root, in 2007, Jenn Wertz and John Buynak refocused on their personal art practice. Tonight, you can see the latest results as The Art of Jenn Wertz and John Buynak plays a special two-night gig at Lawrenceville's Engine House 25. Wertz works in oil paints and wax, inspired by images from her abstract nature photography; Buynak crafts geometric abstracts. The festivities also feature venue-owner Duane Reider's Engine House 25 Wines. BO 7-10 p.m. Exhibit continues 7-10 p.m. Sat., Jan. 15. 3337 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville. Free. www.enginehouse25.com

 

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Fri., Jan. 14 -- Electronic

Tonight, Pittsburgh DJ collective Humanaut presents an extended three-hour set by Italian producer and DJ Donato Dozzy. "There are a number of Italian electronic music producers that made the jump to international stardom," writes Resident Advisor's Todd L. Burns, "[b]ut none has come with as defined -- or, more accurately, refined -- aesthetic as Donato Dozzy." While contemporary, Dozzy's dark blend of techno and trance has roots in the '70s electronic soundtracks of Goblin and Tangerine Dream. Opening at Belvedere's tonight is Humanaut's Aaron Clark. Aaron Jentzen 9 p.m. (doors open). 4016 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $10 ($15 at the door). 21 and over. 412-687-2555

 

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Fri., Jan. 14 -- Rock

Known for his work in the local band Signal to the Ocean Estate, Caleb Pogyor has recently branched out as a solo artist; tonight, he releases a new album at Brillobox. Vocally, Pogyor is a bit reminiscent of Ben Folds -- and fans of the Folds brand of singer-songwriter rock will likely enjoy Pogyor's work (though he's not working with pianos here -- it's a straightforward, guitar-based rock setup). With Elephant, Gypsy & His Band of Ghosts. Andy Mulkerin 9:30 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-621-4900 or www.brillobox.net

 

Sat., Jan. 15 -- Music

Usually more suitable for a sweaty moshpit, the Rex Theater hosts a junior jam with indie-kiddie-rocker Justin Roberts. Roberts' seventh album since 1997, Jungle Gym, was just nominated for a Grammy. It's full of songs with titles like "Trick or Treat" and "Sleepoverland" which have a surprising amount of toe-tapping power for adults. The lyrics may not be sophisticated, but Roberts' background in a grown-up indie band called Pimentos for Gus is clear in these well-constructed songs full of ooohs and horn sections. Rocking out to songs about chalking the sidewalk is easier than you think. The show is -- of course -- all ages. Lucy Steigerwald Noon. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $15 ($50 for four). 412-381-6811 or www.rex.greyareaprod.com

 

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Sat., Jan. 15 -- Acoustic

Once you've seen him perform -- he's a favorite at the AcoustiCafe open-mic series -- you don't easily forget Ben Valasek's unique acoustic style. On songs like "Blame it on the Road" and "Better," the Pittsburgh singer-songwriter builds slowly from quiet strums and murmurs to fierce intensity, often breaking into vocalizations that suggest other instruments. These and other songs are featured on his new CD, Under the Peach Tree. At tonight's release show, Valasek will be joined by a slew of additional musicians; also on the bill are guests Chuck Beatty and Stanley J. Aaron Jentzen 7 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.). Club Café, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $5. 412-431-4950 or www.clubcafelive.com

 

Sat., Jan. 15 -- Words

On the heels of its SRO debut, in November, reading series Speaking Of ... is back for more. More short fiction, this time from Pittsburgh-based Damian Dresseck, who has credits in McSweeney's and The Dos Passos Review. More poetry, from Pittsburgh's Claire Barbetti. And more spoken-word art, from Dwayne Lawson-Brown, a key figure on the Washington, D.C., spoken-word scene. And if you want a seat, better arrive early at Amani Café. BO 8 p.m. 507 Foreland St., North Side. $5. www.speakingofpittsburgh.com

 

Sat., Jan. 15 -- Comedy

Irony City has been performing -- and teaching -- improv comedy locally since 2007; tonight, the troupe brings in a couple of counterparts from the other side of the state. Amie Roe and Kristen Schier are improv vets from Philadelphia who perform as The Kristen and Amie Show; they'll give a workshop this afternoon (seating limited, visit www.ironycity.com to reserve and prepay), then perform with Irony City this evening. Both events take place at ModernFormations Gallery. AM 8:30 p.m. 4919 Penn Ave., Garfield. $6-8. 412-362-0274 or www.ironycity.com

 

Sun., Jan. 16 -- Funk

Maceo Parker, thy name is funk. Discovered by James Brown in the 1960s, his fierce sax-playing made him one of those sidemen the hip kids know about. Parker went on to play with Bootsy Collins and George Clinton, and often came back to jam with Brown. Significantly less-funky folk like Dave Matthews Band, Color Me Badd and Ani DiFranco have more recently used the alto, tenor and soprano sax player to spice their recordings. Solo, Parker has flirted with big band and hip hop, but he always brings the funk. He totes it to the Byham Theater tonight. LS 7 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $20.75-37.75. 412-456-1350 or www.phgarts.org

 

Wed., Jan. 19 -- Rock

Robert Plant has lived more lives than a rock legend has a right to: He was the frontman, of course, for Led Zeppelin, then singer in the ill-advised Honeydrippers. His career and reputation were resurrected in 2007 with a Grammy-winning collaboration with Alison Krauss. Now he's back with a rock combo again, this one called Robert Plant and the Band of Joy. The clown-art aesthetic the band keeps is a little creepy, and the vibe is sort of toned-down Zeppelin, but how many more times will you have the opportunity to hear that legendary screech in person? With North Mississippi Allstars. AM Petersen Events Center, 3719 Terrace St., Oakland. $80-90. 800-745-3000

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