Benjamin Booker, Neko Case, Alvvays highlight Three Rivers Arts Festival music headliners

Benjamin Booker

Benjamin Booker. Photo by Max Norton.

The annual lineup announcement for the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival is as much an opportunity for Pittsburgh residents to kvetch about the musical selections as it is a time to anticipate their upcoming performances.

The festival, produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, runs from June 5 – June 14, at Point State Park. Now in its 56th year, Arts Fest has hosted performances by artists such as Jeff Tweedy, Jake Bugg, Lucinda Williams, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and the Wailers in the past few years alone.

2015’s list of headliners doesn’t stray far from the mold set forth in recent years: one or two big name performers and a couple up-and-coming indie pop bands, rounded out by some singer-songwriters and folk/Americana outfits.

“The music lineup showcased annually at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival is highly anticipated and features some of the nation’s premier musicians within Pittsburgh’s Cultural District,” commented J. Kevin McMahon, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust President & CEO.

Two of the more pleasant surprises: Benjamin Booker, who opened for Jack White at Stage AE last summer, and indie pop buzz band Alvvays, who open for The Decemberists at the Benedum March 31.

All headline concerts will be performed on the Dollar Bank Stage beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Point State Park, with the exception of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performance, which will begin at 7 p.m. Opening acts (yet to be announced) will perform at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and at 6:30 p.m. on weekdays. All concerts are free and open to the public.

Here’s a deeper look at the headliners for the 2015 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival:

Friday, June 5: Jenny Lewis

Former lead singer for LA indie Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis released her third full-length solo album, The Voyager, to critical acclaim. Lewis visited Pittsburgh recently, in July, when she headlined Mr. Smalls.

Saturday, June 6: Railroad Earth and Elephant Revival

Bluegrass Day returns with a pair of headliners, including Railroad Earth, who opened for Yonder Mountain String Band in July at Stage AE.

Sunday, June 7: Alvvays

WYEP 91.3FM Day features jangly Toronto indie pop five-piece Alvvays, who played Pittsburgh for the first time March 31 at the Benedum, when they open for The Decemberists. We wrote about them in our March “Sound Picks” concert guide, noting that their first, self-titled album came out in July of 2014, and by August it reached #1 on the college charts. Here is their song “Archie, Marry Me.”

Monday, June 8: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Pittsburgh Opera

The PSO returns to TRAF for the first time since 2013, when Manfred Honeck led the symphony in a suite that included movements from Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

Tuesday, June 9: The Felice Brothers and Hurray for the Riff Raff

Another pair for lovers of folk and Americana. The Felice Brothers opened for Langhorne Slim at Mr. Smalls last year. Hurray for the Riff Raff hail from New Orleans and feature Alynda Lee Segarra on vocals and banjo.

Wednesday, June 10: Milo Greene

Not to be confused with Cee-Lo Green, Milo Greene is an indie-pop quintet from Los Angeles. Their self-titled, 2012 debut album reached #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Here’s the track “Parents’ House,” off of their synth-heavy 2015 album, Control:

Thursday, June 11: Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens played TRAF in 2012 as a member of old-time string band Carolina Chocolate Drops. Now she returns in support of her first solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, which was released in February on Nonesuch Records.

Friday, June 12: Richard Thompson

Another Arts Fest alum, Thompson headlined back in 2004. Since then, the former Fairport Convention guitarist has released at least a half-dozen albums, including 2013’s Electric, the highest-charting album of his career in both the UK or the US. (Thompson played the Benedum in March of 2014 in support of that album.)

Saturday, June 13: Neko Case

Probably the biggest name of the entire festival, Neko fans thought they’d see the singer-songwriter alongside her bandmates in The New Pornographers at Mr. Smalls in February. Alas, Neko skipped leg two of the Brill Bruisers tour. She did, however, perform by herself at the Byham last summer.

Sunday, June 14: Benjamin Booker

Benjamin Booker played at the show of the summer last year when he opened for Jack White at Stage AE. His muscular, bluesy garage rock should end the festival with a bang: