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An Evolving POC Planner for the 2022 Festival Season

Ever since reading this 2014 Pittsburgh City Paper article about TRAF’s diversity dearth, I’ve paid close attention to the trajectory of change. It’s been a positive one, thanks to a conscious festival committee and staff. Local foundations have played a part as well.

Tank and the Bangas, TRAF 2019 (soulshowmike image)

Big picture: catching some coffee in the cream still requires navigation and planning. The pandemic and other forces have changed logistics and scheduling, and I’ve started scribbling down what looks good for the warm season.

Oakland Pop Festival, April 23

I spotted this new one on the WYEP website. It’s time to see Jordan Montgomery for the first time, and Sierra again.


Pittonkatonk, Schenley Park, May 14

Afro Yaqui, City of Asylum 2019 (soulshowmike image)

Millvale Music Festival, May 20-21

Royce, Millvale Music Festival 2021 (soulshowmike image)

Sierra Sellers and Royce were back to back on the Mr. Smalls big stage last year. Get the schedule online and map your route around town. I recommend Back Alley Sound and Royce in 2022.

Maple House Music + Arts Festival, May 21

This one came out of nowhere, and is generating a lot of excitement. I need to see Adia Victoria, Big Sam, Eric Gales and Black Pumas. Make sure you look at my sneakaround map to avoid Hartwood’s traffic madness at the main gate.

Kayafest, Smallman Street May 29

Come for Timbeleza, Bell Family Band (Poogie & Winston), Truth and Rites.

Kayafest 2017 (soulshowmike image)

Jazz On The Steps, Carnegie Library Homewood, (most) Wednesdays June-July

Three Rivers Arts Festival, Downtown June 3-12

Lizz Wright, Bette Smith, Cory Henry, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, etc., etc. TRAF has lined up a great ticket for 2022.

Donnie Dread w/Freedom Band, TRAF 2016 (soulshowmike image)

Stars at Riverview, Riverview Park, Saturdays June 11 – August 27

Allegheny County Summer Concert Series, Hartwood Acres and South Park June 3 – September 2

Highlights for this year: Bill Henry Band. Byron Nash. Allison Russell (of Our Native Daughters), Midnight Star (except….who’s left??). Also, Vanessa Collier (also at Flood City this summer) and Arrested Development (also at Point State Park this summer).

Make sure you look at my sneakaround map to avoid Hartwood’s traffic madness at the main gate.

Ruthie Foster, South Park 2016 (soulshowmike image)

Juneteenth, Downtown June 16-19

Tri-C Jazz Festival, Cleveland June 23-25

My schedule in recent years has been to attend TRAF, Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Juneteenth and Tri-C one after the other, bang bang bang bang. It was fun, but then there would be a long gap. PIJF has moved to September, so Tri-C is next in the lineup. Last year, it moved from downtown Cleveland to a nice park on the outskirts. It was almost as good as ever, but I’m glad to see it move back to the Theatre District. The lineup is always solid. Recent highlights have included Lakecia Benjamin, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Christian McBride’s tribute to Bobby Womack.

WYEP Summer Music Festival, Schenley Plaza June 25

Chocolaty picks: The Seratones and Sierra Sellers.

Pittsburgh Reggae Festival, Homestead July 1

Pittsburgh Black Music Fest, Downtown July 14-17

Deutschtown Music Festival, Northside July 22-24

With 400 local and regional acts, all you need to do is peruse the schedule and work your way around.

Flood City Music Festival, Johnstown July 29-30

Flood is a pretty drive up the country and into the bowl. Bernie Worrell, Cyril Neville, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and others have been highlights for me (plus Brownout presents Brown Sabbath and Devon Allman as bands slightly off the theme of this story). This year the organizers are excited about Vanessa Collier, and I am too.

Big Sam’s Funky Nation at Flood 2014 (soulshowmike image)
Vanessa Collier, from her FB page

Also, there is this young guy:

Pittsburgh Blues and Roots Festival (Cheswick), July 30-31

I went out to see Elias Khouri and Jimbo & The Soupbones in recent years. Bernard Allison was amazing two(?) years ago. Last year, Soulful Femme brought along guests who took down the house.

Just Summer, The Highline (South Side), August 9, 16, 23

This is a relatively new series presented by Chamber Music Pittsburgh, and is one of the city’s best-kept musical secrets. It moved to The Highline in 2021.

  • August 9: Alejandro Pinzon Quintet
  • August 16: C Street Brass
  • August 23: INEZ

Word from Chamber Music Pittsburgh: “All concerts are free! De Fer will be there selling cocktails and Sly Fox Brewery will be open!”

Highmark Blues and Heritage Festival, Highmark Stadium September 15-16

This festival is now starts before Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, and bumps right into PIJF. What a busy weekend. Excited to see Wolfman and Fantastic Negrito. It moved from downtown to Highmark Stadium in 2021.

Kingfish Ingram at Highmark Blues & Heritage, 2019 (soulshowmike image)

Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Highmark Stadium September 16-18

PIJF mostly moved to the south bank in 2021. The stadium setting offered a beautiful backdrop of the city skyline. This year’s must-see is Samara Joy. I also need to catch Ledisi for a full show. I may have seen Nate Smith before, but in support. The August Wilson organizers are really excited about Vanisha Gould.

Winston Bell, PIJF 2021 (soulshowmike image)

PIJF at its new 2021 home (soulshowmike image)



  1. Robert
    Robert February 27, 2022

    Thank you for the dates, they are very helpful for those of us who have to take vacation or make work schedule switches to attend. The earliest multiperformer outdoor PGH event, Pittonkatonk, just announced their dates but not the lineup.

  2. admin
    admin March 5, 2022

    Ah, yes! Thanks for P’Tonk reminder.

  3. Jack Day
    Jack Day April 21, 2022

    Mike, thanx for compiling the list, this info was much needed and will be very helpful to us live music fans . . .

    • admin
      admin May 4, 2022

      You’re welcome, Jack!

  4. Jon Leya
    Jon Leya May 4, 2022

    Maple House Music Feast does not belong on this list. It does not really support local music and coincides with Millvale Music Festival. Great lineup (except for the Ghost Hounds) that’s true — but look up why this show is even happening against a true Pittsburgh music festival.
    Save your money (Tom Tull and his wife don’t need anymore money) and support local music or at least bands that are in it for artistic and not monetary reasons.

    • admin
      admin May 11, 2022

      John, thanks for your feedback. I do agree that it doesn’t support local music as much as some others on the list, but that wasn’t a pre-condition that I was attempting to meet. I also understand the frustration regarding Deutschtown.

      My focus here, as stated, is to provide a good overview of the artists of color.

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