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Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival

Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival 

Three Rive Arts Fest

June 2-11, 2017

Pittsburgh, PA 

Review and photos by Lisa Sikon

This is the 58th year the Three Rivers Arts Festival is being held in the city of Pittsburgh. There are a

Three Rivers Art Fest
wide variety of things to see and do this year, it features 10 days of free music, theater, dance, public art and gallery exhibitions and creative activities. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust organizes the event and it draws thousands each year from the City of Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. It is the region's largest multidisciplinary showcase of visual and performing arts. I personally have attended many years, starting back when I was in college and have always enjoyed the event immensely. It's always held in the areas surrounding Point State Park and Gateway Center, with artist booths dotting every available space possible.

There is always plenty of choices for food, whether it is a food truck or the many choices available in the booth areas. In the last couple of years, the green theme is present, with many options for recycling and compost friendly food containers available. I've been to other festivals, and the Arts Festival has to be the cleanest one I've seen. People are very diligent about picking up their trash and depositing it appropriately. 

Jimbo and the Soupbones
The first night show that I attended was Jimbo and the Soupbones. This is a fun local band that got the crowd hopping. Front man James "Jimbo" Jackson is the heart and soul of this band, with a charismatic stage presence and relates to the crowd on so many levels. They warmed up for the New Orleans based, Rebirth Brass Band. They brought the sounds of New Orleans to the beautiful Pittsburgh evening. There was a large crowd there on Friday night, all appreciating the many, instruments and talents of this group. The evening ended with a death defying dance act from Auston Texas, the Blue Lapis Light. The four dancers, using ropes, hung off the Highmark building and performed a dance routing that defied gravity and mesmerized the crowd below. They performed in sync, often twirling and floating thru the air.

Saturday was another beautiful day in the city. I roamed around the booths looking at the many different types of art for sale and stopped by the acoustic stage to catch the final few songs of The Lone Pines. I stopped and took a few photos of the umbrella display, which was colorful and fun. I
Kate Hastings Band
 headed over to the main stage and caught the Kate Hastings Band. A country rock group with a lot of energy and a lot of fun to enjoy at the park on this beautiful afternoon. My favorite local band, Pet Clinic was up on stage next and they put on a great performance, mixing old favorites with some new songs from their recent album "No Face" and adding a few brand new songs not yet recorded. Here's hoping for a new album out next year!. Hippo Campus closed out the evening music with a high energy performance that wowed the younger audience. Hippo Campus was here last summer for a WYEP Final Friday events, they have a large fan base here and they didn't disappoint. This Minnesota based band has put out their first full length album, "Landmark" . They started with a few songs off of this album and the fans were crowded as close as they could get to these talented guys.
Sunday the rains came-the Arts Festival is notorious for being scheduled on rainy days. Originally, the festival was held in May, but was moved a few years ago to June to try to avoid the rain, but there will always be some rainy days. It didn't deter people from coming down to the festival. There was still a substantial crowd for Meeting of Important People which was on the Main Stage. This is another local band with an entertaining stage presence. They played a mix of older and newer songs, some off of their recent album "Troika" as well as a couple of cover songs, most notably one from Soundgarden, to honor Chris Cornell. MOIP always puts on a great show and they certainly brought out their "A" game for the Arts Festival. Next up was a group from East LA, Las Cafeteras. It's hard to pinpoint the exact genre for this band, they are a mix of Latino music, with punk, hip-hop, rap, African and beat music mixed. They did an awesome rap of Pittsburgh, incorporating the three rivers and the rainy day into the music. Their energy was infectious, the crowd was soon dancing and singing along with the band. 

I was back on the Main Stage on Tuesday, it was a cool evening but clear and the crowds were out in full force. Cloves took the stage first that evening. Kaity Dunstan is originally from Australia and uses the stage name Cloves. She started off the evening with her soulful voice and beautiful lyrics. It was very nice warm up for the main act that evening, Michael Kiwanuka. He has been a favorite of mine for a while now. Michael Kiwanuka just released his second album, Love and Hate. It was voted WYEP's album of the year for a good reason. He started off the evening with the first song on the album, Cold Little Heart and he did the entire version, not the modified version they play on the radio. He has such an amazing voice and hearing the entire version live was something to witness. The crowd definitely was into the entire performance, cheering enthusiastically after every song. The fact that this was a free show, open to everyone at the Arts Festival, tells of the caliber of performances that the festival draws.

I wasn't back at the Festival until Friday, anxiously awaiting Dawes. The Accidentals performed first and I quite liked this band. They are an indie-folk band with some unique instrumentation. A violin and cello were the main instruments and the mix of music ran from bluegrass to folk. They are a band I would definitely want to catch again. I saw Dawes about two years ago in Pittsburgh, so I knew I would be in for a great show. I wasn't disappointed. He does have a new album out, We're All Gonna Die. He played a mix of new songs and old songs and did a great performance. The crowd again was huge and the weather threatened rain, but it ended up being a nice evening. Of course, he finished with one of my favorites, All Your Favorite Bands. Dawes is always a show I will want to see and having them at the Arts Festival was great.

The Commonheart
Sunday was a hot and sunny day and again the crowds were huge. I was able to catch The Shacks. Shannon Wise and Max Shrager are the backbone of this band. It's not easy to categorize this band, the soft voice of Shannon sets the dreamy songs. I enjoyed listening to them. Next up was a local band, The Commonheart. This was my first time seeing this band play together, I have see Clinton Clegg perform solo. I enjoyed the music immensely. The strong voice of Clinton Clegg combined with the guitar solos from Matt Minda and the entire horn section made for a fantastic performance. The crowd got into the music as well. The final band for the evening was St Paul and the Broken Bones. This six piece soul band based out of Alabama put on a great show. Their recent album, Sea of Noise, was promoted. I enjoyed watching and listening to this band and the crowd was definitely in tune as well.

The Point
All in all the this year the Three River's Arts Festival was a huge success. The weather cooperated and most days and evenings were rain free. There was so much to see in the artist's booths and the art seemed to change daily. Food trucks lined the streets on the evening with the main food stands near the stage. There was always lines on both. This event is a mainstay for the city of Pittsburgh. We are so fortunate to have this type of event where all the events are free and open to the public. A lot goes on to hosting these types of events and I thank the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for organizing and finding volunteers for this event. It showcases the different types of Arts in the city. I focused on mainly the bands, and it's great that local bands are included in the lineup. I look forward to seeing next year's festival, it seems to only get better each year.


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