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What to do in Pittsburgh this weekend: July 12-14

Two people play guitars on a stage while another sings into a microphone.
Northside Music Festival
Performers at the 2023 Northside Music Festival. The fest returns this weekend.

Enjoy new works from local playwrights, celebrate the 125th birthday of "Dippy" the dinosaur or visit the Northside Music Festival — here's what to do in Pittsburgh this weekend.

Bards from the Burgh is a reading series for new works by local playwrights courtesy of Pittsburgh International Classic Theatre. The latest installment concludes with two more readings this week. Wed., July 10, brings “Isle of Noises,” TJ Young’s revisionist take on “The Tempest,” centering Caliban; his mother, Sycorax; and Ariel. On Thu., July 11, local actors bring to life Doren Elias’s “King Con,” the true story of the inventor of the Ponzi scheme. The pay-what-you-can readings are at City Theatre’s Lillie Theatre.

It was 125 years ago this month that fossil hunters in Wyoming found the first bones of what we now call Dippy the dinosaur. The 84-foot-long skeleton of diplodocus carnegii still occupies the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which marks the anniversary with a series of talks and science-themed parties honoring Dippy’s paleontological and cultural significance. The first is the all-day affair “Discovering Dippy: The Dinosaur That Changed the World,” on Fri., July 12. More events are here.

So if you start near the Veterans Bridge and run down River Avenue and West and East General Robinson Street to the Acrisure Stadium parking lot, that’s one mile. We know this because it’s the course for the inaugural America’s Mile, a footrace organized by P3R (which stages the Pittsburgh Marathon) and presented by Visit Pittsburgh on Fri., July 12. Everyone from kids to seniors can compete, while elite types vie for a $34,200 purse. The first heat begins at 6:30 p.m., while the pros step off just after 8 p.m.

The Northside Music Festival is back, and a little bigger than last year’s. The free, three-day fest takes place Fri., July 12, through Sun., July 14, at a dozen indoor venues and outdoor stages in and around Deutschtown and Allegheny Commons Park East. It features some 100 bands from Pittsburgh and the region, including f*ck yeah, dinosaurs!, Forestry Division, Tiny Wars, Chet Vincent and the Music Industry, NASH.V.ILL, and Anthony Jardine and The Clunkers. The fest wraps with Gospel Sunday in Allegheny Commons East Park.

“It’s like March Madness but with jokes instead of basketballs” is how New York-based writer and comedian Emily Winter describes One Liner Madness, the touring, bracket-style contest she created to find the best joke writer in each city. In its second stop in Pittsburgh, 2023 winner Zivan Vasquez will defend his title against 63 other comics armed with jokes of three sentences or fewer. The 95-minute show takes place Sat., July 13, at Spirit.

J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars film “The Force Awakens,” the 2015 sequel to “Return of the Jedi,” was a critical and commercial hit. This weekend, the film gets the live-music treatment at Heinz Hall, as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs John Williams’ Grammy-winning soundtrack alongside the film. Rey, Finn, Han Solo, Gen. Leia and Kylo Ren will be accompanied by strings, brass and more at Heinz Hall Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, July 13 and 14.

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: