A Music Lover's Guide to Pittsburgh, PA

Of Monsters and Men performing at Stage AE in Pittsburgh
Of Monsters and Men performing at Stage AE in Pittsburgh | © Devon Christopher Adams / Flickr
Photo of Natasha Bazika
30 May 2018

Pittsburgh has nurtured famous musicians such as Christina Aguilera, Billy Eckstine, Steve Moore, Wiz Khalifa and many more. Steel City is a wonderland place when it comes to music, and there’s something for everyone. This guide offers options ranging from the best bars with live music to festivals and stores where you can pick up your favorite sounds on vinyl.

Must-visit music bars

Howl at the Moon

Bar, American, $$$
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Howl at the Moon piano night | © Cesar Garza / Flickr
Howl at the Moon is exactly what it insinuates. Musos can dance the night away, and howl as loud as they want as they let loose in a high-energy club-vibe bar in the heart of Pittsburgh. Every night is a new experience, as they hold a range of events with many different kinds of music. The best part is the buckets of your favorite cocktail, including Howlin’ Mule, Big Apple, Sex On The Moon and many more.

Howlers Coyote Cafe

Bar, American, $$$
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Guitarist | © Alvaro Pardo Fotografía
There seems to be a pattern with howling, as your second stop should be Howlers, a rock bar and local hangout in Pittsburgh’s historic Little Italy neighborhood. Guests can share a pint while listening to live music delivered by a variety of local and touring artists.

The Smiling Moose

Bar, Restaurant, American, $$$
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The Smiling Moose Southside Pittsburgh | © erjk. amerjka / Flickr
The third must-visit music bar is one that welcomes with bright red neon lights spelling out The Smiling Moose in Pittsburgh’s Southside neighborhood. This bar/restaurant is popular for its acclaimed cuisine, excellent live entertainment and regular weekly events such as karaoke, trivia nights, DJ performances and theme nights.

Free concerts

They say everything is better when it’s free, so here are a few free concerts for all music lovers in Pittsburgh. First stop is Jazz Live at the Katz Plaza and The Cabaret at Theater Square. Listen to some of the region’s finest jazz musicians in a relaxed atmosphere. The second stop is the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival from June 2-11 at Point State Park. This year British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka is performing live. Once a month, specifically every third Thursday, the WYEP community broadcast center invites locals to enjoy live music with 91.3FM. This monthly happy hour is on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and performances start at 7 p.m. Thirdly, Hartwood Acres holds concerts starting at 7:30 p.m. every night from June 5 to September 4, featuring music of all genres including the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Three Rivers Arts Festival Pittsburgh | © Sara Hagens / Flickr

Music venue

Carnegie Music Hall

Concert Hall
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Carnegie Music Hall | © Brook Ward / Flickr
Carnegie Mellon University has a great music program for undergraduates and graduates, as well as certificate programs and summer preparatory school programs for students looking to pursue a profession in music. Guests can visit the alumni concert hall to listen and watch rehearsals, recitals, and performances. The Carnegie Music Hall is also an exceptional space and is the main public performance venue of the CMU Philharmonic and Wind Ensemble, which is a sight to see.

Must-visit music stores

Jerry's Records

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Vintage records | © Tabitha Dailey / Flickr
Records are making a comeback and Pittsburgh’s Jerry records is a one-stop shop situated in the historic Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Named one of Rolling Stone’s best record stores in the USA, Jerry’s houses some of the world’s finest vinyl, from rock and pop to metal and soul genres. They also have an extensive selection of blues, older R&B, ’50s rock, compilations and a “weird section,” which is always fun to peruse.

Attic Records is another great record store where visitors can discover some music treasures and Dave’s Music Mine is a gold mine for vinyl collectors with its well-curated selection.

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