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What to do in Pittsburgh this weekend: July 5-7

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

The "furries" return to the city for Anthrocon, "The Music Man" takes to the stage, commemorate the Homestead Steel strike — here's what to do in Pittsburgh this weekend.

Visual Art
Three exhibits highlighting artists of West African descent are in their final weeks at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. “Xippi, Heritage, and Metamorphosis” is curated by Chicago-based Janice Bond. “Abebui Adekai: Proverb Boxes for a Life Well Traveled” features work by Ghanaian artist Jacob Paa Joe Jr. And Pittsburgh’s own Mikael Owunna contributes selections from “Limitless Africans,” his photo series documenting LGBTQ+ immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. The shows run through Sun., July 14.

The City of Pittsburgh’s big annual Independence Day Celebration starts at 4 p.m. Thursday., July 4, with live music and more Downtown. In Point State Park, the main stage features local favorites Nash.v.ill, along with Squonk Opera performing its interactive spectacle “Brouhaha” and the Mr. Smalls 90s Summer Jam, with local musicians doing tunes from that era. On Liberty Avenue, there are food trucks and another stage, and North Side’s riverfront Great Lawn hosts a DJ. The big fireworks show begins at 9:35 p.m.

Even 132 years later, the Homestead Steel strike remains infamous. In 1892, Homestead Steel Works owner Andrew Carnegie called in strikebreakers and a paramilitary force to end a strike there. A dozen died, the National Guard was summoned, and the union was broken. From 2-5 p.m. Saturday, July 6, the Battle of Homestead Foundation remembers the struggle on its very site, at Munhall’s Pump House, in a free program featuring speakers and live music by the May Day Marching Band and the Pittsburgh Labor Choir.

It’s that time of year again, when you’re rather more likely than usual to see folks dressed like animal mascots Downtown. Yup, Anthrocon returns to Pittsburgh for the umpteenth time. And while most of the four-day gathering for fans of anthropomorphic creatures takes place indoors, elaborately costumed furries hit the streets to greet their fans on Saturday, July 6. The Fursuit Parade steps off down Penn Avenue at 2 p.m. It’s immediately followed by the free Anthrocon Block Party, also on Penn.

Famed funk and soul band The Bar-Kays tops the bill this weekend at Allegheny County’s Summer Concert Series at Hartwood Acres on Sunday, July 7. The group that backed Otis Redding and other Stax recording artists retains just one founding member, bassist James Alexander. But it’s sure to roll out heavy-grooving hits such as “Soul Finger” and “Boogie Body Land.” The free show’s opener is Pittsburgh’s own Clinton Clegg with the Norside Organ Trio.

It’s among the most beloved — and, inevitably, parodied — of American stage musicals. “The Music Man” returns to (Three) River(s) City courtesy of the Pittsburgh CLO. Meredith Willson’s 1957 Broadway hit about a con man trying to hornswoggle an Iowa town features such standards as “Seventy-Six Trombones” and “Till There Was You.” Actor and recording artist Charles Esten stars as Harold Hill, with Broadway veteran Nikki Renée Daniels plays Marian the librarian. There are seven performances at the Benedum Center starting Tuesday, July 9.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: