Jazz Nights at Con Alma offers unique chance to enjoy live music during pandemic


DTC Organ Trio plays outside Con Alma on Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside as part of its Outdoor Jazz series. photo credit: Wyatt Cory

Wyatt Cory

For many music lovers like myself, the past few months have been especially rough without any concerts or live music to attend. 

For most fans, getting to see live music has been left in the past or, in some cases, even moved to social media livestreams. The problem, though, is that there’s nothing quite like the experience of in-person live music, but getting people together to do this safely has been almost impossible for venues because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Local restaurant and jazz club Con Alma — about a 15-minute walk or 5-minute drive from Chatham University’s Shadyside campus — has come up with a solution with its Outdoor Jazz nights.

This venue has moved its shows curbside, inviting each band to play on the sidewalk outside of the restaurant. By doing this, patrons and music lovers have the opportunity to enjoy the sounds of local jazz musicians safely outdoors.

Con Alma aims to keep jazz prevalent in Pittsburgh, which has a rich heritage in the genre. These shows have been successful so far, attracting a large audience to every set.

Fans in attendance setup chairs across the street, sit on the stairs of the local shops, find spots on the sidewalk and even bring couches to enjoy each show. By doing this, they are able to practice social distancing while also being able to hear and see the band. It doesn’t cost anything to attend, but fans are welcome to order from Con Alma’s Latin-inspired menu and bring the food back to their seats to fuel their night of music.

The bands involved seem to be just as excited as the fans in the audience. For most of them, this is their first opportunity to be part of live shows in months. The relationship between every musician playing is incredible to watch. Each solo is just as impressive as the last, showing off members’ abilities and knowledge of their instruments. When you bring it all together — plus the creative outdoor setup — it makes for some of the best live music you can find right now.

Con Alma is located at 5884 Ellsworth Ave., in Shadyside. Live performances are scheduled to continue through Sept. 20. More information about the schedule can be found at conalmapgh.com.