OUR PICKS FOR THREE RIVERS ARTS FEST — AND THE LOWDOWN ON THE SECRET AFTER PARTY

In terms of free cultural events, the Three Rivers Arts Fest is at the top of our list every year. This 10-day festival features both nationally acclaimed musicians and local acts, plus an artist market, great food, visual exhibitions and more. When you add the riverfront views of Point State Park, it only makes this summer event even more of a must-see.

Here’s everything we’re looking forward to checking out at this year’s Three Rivers Arts Fest.

Friday, June 1 

Mavis Staples. The queen of American gospel, blues and classic R&B, Mavis Staples rocks every stage she sets foot on — even at age 79. Throughout her five-decades-long career as a musician and activist, Staples has spoken out against racial and societal injustice through her music, collaborating with fellow icons like Bob Dylan, Jeff Tweedy and Ray Charles. We can’t wait to listen to her recognizable, powerhouse voice and her incredible stories of life in the music industry when she kicks off Arts Fest this Friday.

Saturday, June 2

Everything Everything. Get out and dance in front of the Pittsburgh skyline when this Brit-pop band takes the stage on Saturday night. They describe their genre-blending style of music as “frenetic, art-pop juxtapositions of R’n’B and melancholia and Afrobeat, of synths, guitars, falsetto”, and we think it’s the perfect thing to kick off your shoes and dance to as the sun sets over the river.

FOOTWORK. Keep the party going with the Trust’s after-party, FOOTWOOK.  There are dance parties, and then there are dance parties in a secret location in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. Once you purchase your tickets, watch your e-mail for the location reveal 24 hours before the big event designed by the uber talented LUXE Creative (the team behind the production of Thrival and more). The immersive space will be filled with music, cocktails and small bites for a dance party that lasts all night long. To get $5 off tickets, use code IGNITE. We’ll also be giving a couple pairs of tickets away, so make sure to keep your eyes on our Instagram this week.

Sunday, June 3

Joy Ike. What’s not to love about Joy Ike, especially when you get to see her outside on a warm Sunday evening? This Nigerian-born singer-songwriter and NPR darling has toured nonstop for the past decade, and her masterful piano playing and Nina Simone-esque voice shows the range of her talent.  Pair the show with an early dinner or a after concert cocktail at Fl. 2.

Wednesday, June 6

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. Willie’s 29-year-old son and crew are mainstays on the festival circuit, and their signature Americana rock fronted by the younger Nelson’s smooth, soulful voice are beloved by fans both young and old. This is sure to be one of the biggest nights of Arts Fest, so be sure to arrive early to snag a spot close to the stage.  Afterwards, do as his dad would and heard to Butcher and the Rye for a pour (or two) of whiskey.

Thursday, June 7

Sidewalk Chalk. This year’s lineup is certainly more geared toward an older crowd than Arts Fests we’ve seen in the past, but Sidewalk Chalk bridges the gap and offers something for the younger set. The Chicago-based six-piece blends jazz, funk, hip-hop, and R&B in a way that’s totally radio-ready and dance-worthy.

Friday, June 8

Brooke Annibale. Pittsburgh resident and WYEP-mainstay Brooke Annibale will start your weekend off on a high note with her indie-acoustic sound and soulful voice.

Valerie June. After the early show, stick around for Valerie June’s beloved blend of folk, soul, R&B and country. This breakout star and icon-in-the-making has toured with Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Sturgill Simpson and Norah Jones in recent years, and even new listeners will count themselves as fans after hearing her soaring vocals on Friday night.   You will want to pack a picnic, some beverages (cough, cough….rosé) and a blanket for this one.

Saturday, June 9

Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. For fans of bluegrass and Americana, it doesn’t get much better than watching a 15-time Grammy award winner play some roots revival music with the Allegheny River in the background — and that’s just what you’ll get when Skaggs and company cap off the last weekend of Arts Fest.

Sunday, June 10

Buffalo Rose. Pittsburgh-based folk collective Buffalo Rose bring some post-brunch jams to the riverfront stage on Sunday afternoon. We vote to pair with a Meat & Potatoes or Union Standard before.

The Mavericks. If you’re in it for the long haul, you won’t want to miss the official Arts Fest sendoff performance with ’90s favorites The Mavericks. They’re best known for Latin-influenced songs like “Dance the Night Away” and “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down.”

*Festival-long events:

Aside from the nightly music events, there are also a ton of great art exhibits throughout the festival. Check these out any time between June 1 and June 10.

Faces of Pittsburgh. Head over to the Gateway Lawn @ Gateway Center to see this photography exhibit by Janette Beckman, which features photos from underserved communities aiming to empower and engage students and children.

Juried Visual Art Exhibition. This exhibition at the Trust Arts Education Center includes art by 28 new and emerging artists throughout the Pittsburgh area. Vote for your favorites on-site after you check out the exhibit — a few will win a $500 Juror’s Award, and one piece will win the Best in Show $2,500 prize.

Six Plates for Annabelle and Maggie. Pittsburgh-based sculptor Dee Briggs brings her third installment of her plate-based work made from massive sheets of Cor-Ten steel to the lawn at Gateway Center T-station.  And we love this piece so much, we hope it stays there permanently.