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Outdoor concerts to fill Pittsburgh with music on Make Music Day | TribLIVE.com
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Outdoor concerts to fill Pittsburgh with music on Make Music Day

Rex Rutkoski
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Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
Portrait of jazz vocalist Kea Michaels, of Swissvale, who will be performing from 5-7 at the Make Music Pittsburgh Day event in Schenley Plaza on June 21.
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Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
Portrait of jazz vocalist Kea Michaels, of Swissvale, who will be performing from 5-7 at the Make Music Pittsburgh Day event in Schenley Plaza on June 21.
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Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
Jazz vocalist Kea Michaels of Swissvale who will be performing from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Make Music Pittsburgh Day event in Schenley Plaza on June 21.
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Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Fry Jones, seen here doing an impromptu jam on the sidewalk in Polish Hill Thursday June 11, 2015, will be one of the featured artists taking part in Make Music Pittsburgh Day. Several musicians will perform June 21 at various locations throughout the city, with Jones bringing his one-man acoustical jam to sidewalks.
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Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Fry Jones, seen here doing an impromptu jam on the sidewalk in Polish Hill Thursday June 11, 2015, will be one of the featured artists taking part in Make Music Pittsburgh Day. Several musicians will perform June 21 at various locations throughout the city, with Jones bringing his one-man acoustical jam to sidewalks.
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Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Fry Jones, seen here doing an impromptu jam on the sidewalk in Polish Hill Thursday June 11, 2015, will be one of the featured artists taking part in Make Music Pittsburgh Day. Several musicians will perform June 21 at various locations throughout the city, with Jones bringing his one-man acoustical jam to sidewalks.
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HDJ Photography
Bilal Abbey, left, and Pharaoh Lum of hip hop group Heroes & Terrorists
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Submitted
The band King Fez
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Don Strange of Friendship
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Dhruva Krishna of Squirrel Hill

Gina Ketter loves the idea of playing music just for the sake of making music.

She and Pittsburgh musicians of a wide variety of genres — rock, pop, classical, hip-hop, jazz, punk-indie, bluegrass — will have the opportunity to do just that on the first Make Music Pittsburgh Day on June 21 in free and informal outdoor performances in parks, alleys, farmers markets, neighborhood yards, on sidewalks and throughout the city.

Her band, King Fez, a group that “rocks the Casbah with belly-dance beats,” will entertain at 11:30 a.m. outside the Pittsburgh Glass Center in Garfield and at 2 p.m. outside the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh on the North Side.

She hopes it becomes an annual event.

“I would love to discover all of the great music that exists in the ‘Burgh,” she says.

That’s the plan, says Jasmine Kurjakovic of Greenfield, who is leading a team of musician and nonmusician volunteers in organizing the event, which is modeled after France’s Fete de la Musique. That began in 1982, when, she says, the minister of culture announced he wanted all musicians to come outside and play to celebrate the longest day of the year.

Since then, it has become a national holiday in France and has grown to more than 750 cities globally. Kurjakovic was able to experience the day when she was studying in France as a Pitt student.

“It’s just an amazing day, and I thought to myself that Pittsburgh needs something like this. I love music, and I think musicians are amazing people,” she says. The time was right, “because Pittsburgh now has a mayor who promotes the arts,” she says.

She credits Mayor Bill Peduto for championing the legislation enabling busking/street performing in the city without a permit.

“Pittsburgh is very lucky to have an amazing music scene, and it’s time to show off our musical talents,” she says. “This festival will expose people to music they may otherwise never hear.”

The soundtrack this day will be especially colorful, including didgeridoos, cellos, violins, ukuleles, guitars and traditional instrumentation.

“We also have the jazz festival going on, so Pittsburgh really will have music all over the city,” Kurjakovic says.

Volunteer Janine Jelks-Seale of Highland Park appreciates that Pittsburgh is joining an international celebration.

“I also like that each neighborhood can have a musical voice in what ends up being a musical conversation in communities,” she says. “It’s neat that the music is not contained within four walls, in one location of the city, but can be enjoyed at the doorsteps of communities and business districts throughout.”

Indie rocker Don Strange of Friendship sees making music as the ultimate community bonding experience.

“Everyone leaves their issues and baggage behind when they are making music,” he says. He hopes June 21 is the start of something long-running.

“In the old days, kids in a family would learn different instruments and effectively become a band as a family,” he says. “Now, imagine that the whole city is that band and family for one day.”

He and members of his Doosh Bears will join other musicians in sets at Mr. Smalls in Millvale, beginning at 2 p.m.

Jazz vocalist Kea Michaels, performing from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Schenley Plaza, Oakland, is excited.

“This is a door-opener for all musicians, especially those who are very talented but don’t have the recognition behind them to perform often and at certain venues,” Michaels says. “It allows people all over Pittsburgh who wouldn’t hear live music regularly to get the chance to.”

“We believe that events like this are extremely important to not only the artist but to the youth as well,” says Bilal Abbey, a member of the hip-hop group Heroes & Terrorists and a grad student at Pitt. “They are given the opportunity to witness someone doing something that they might be interested in doing, but on a local scale.”

The hip-hop group will perform at 2:30 p.m. in Lawrenceville outside 5272 Butler St. and at 6 p.m. at the Local 412 store, 4901 Penn Ave.

It’s an atmosphere without pressure, says Dhruva Krishna. “It can really give people the confidence to play at bigger stages and foster a sense of community, allowing them to network and support each other.”

The Carnegie Mellon University student, who primarily plays guitar and drums in an array of genres, describes music as his “most authentic outlet for expression, allowing me to connect to people across various cultures and places.”

He will be in the spotlight at 11:30 a.m. at Yoga Hive in the Strip District, 1:30 p.m. outside 5272 Studios, Lawrenceville, and at 3 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Glass Center.

Polish Hill’s Fry Jones will bring his punk-rock, indie and folk influences to the sidewalk outside East End Book Exchange in Bloomfield at 2 p.m.

“Playing on the sidewalk is a very freeing act, because it puts you right in the middle of everyone’s day,” says the acoustic guitarist. “This event is the kind of opportunity for music to really inspire the community and change things.”

Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or [email protected].

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