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America – Byham Theatre – 2/21/2019

By Frank Harrington

Photos: Steve Kalinsky

The Pittsburgh Cultural District was buzzing with excitement for days but nothing could prepare the audience for two celebrity sightings in one night under one roof. Legendary 70’s rockers America who are no stranger to Western Pennsylvania visits made a rare appearance to the intimate Byham Theater. This was the calling for two of Pittsburgh’s biggest celebrities to join us in what brings all of humanity together….the gift of music.

February 21, 2019 Byham Theatre

Usually one must watch TV to see the stars, but former Pittsburgh Steeler coach Bill Cowher and KDKA TV’s Paul Martino’s magical presence to the concert made one feel that they were part of something reserved only for Kings and Queens.

America, celebrating 50 years of hit making made sure all their chestnuts and then some were performed. Original members Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, with their voices holding up quite nicely,  performed note for note and in the same key as the original recorded versions.

Dressed to kill, Beckley and Bunnell fired off their opener “Tin Man” and let their comforting voices warm the room, and for the next 90 minutes reminded us why they were one of the greatest bands to come out of California alongside CSNY and The Eagles.

Enhancing Beckley and Bunnell were some of the finest musicians to walk the planet. Steve Fekete who has been known for his work with Gwen Stefani, Five for Fighting, Don Felder, Vertical Horizon and Avril Lavigne , took over on lead guitar and played the songs that shaped the nation.  The Harrington’s have sat and wondered, “What’s going on with the band Reel Big Fish?” Tonight we got our answer because former Reel Big Fish drummer Rylan Steen was in the stool. In every band there has to be one member who is generally low-key but their contribution is the glue keeping the train on track. Bass player Rich Campbell is the glue that seals America’s borders.

 America ended the evening by inviting Former Steeler coach Bill Cowher and his wife Veronica on stage during “A Horse with No Name.” Cowher looked relaxed and happy to be out of the rain while dancing alongside and in between Beckley and Bunnell.  Veronica was provided an acoustic guitar and strummed along with America’s greatness.

Earlier in the day the band toured the Andy Warhol Museum. Some rather creative photos from their visit can be found on America’s official Instagram page. Oz may have never left anything for the Tin Man, but America left us with songs that define a timeless generation.