The music business makes its money on tour these days, and summer is the season when everybody hits the road, fingers crossed, in hopes that with school out and the temperature rising, live music still seems like a necessary entertainment expenditure.
It's the season for outdoor shows in familiar places. The 48th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival will take place, as always, at the Old Poole Farm in Schwenksville, with this year's edition (Aug. 14-16) spruced up with Iron & Wine, the Low Anthem, and the Rebirth Brass Band. There'll be a full slate of shows at Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden and the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Fairmount Park. And July 14, juju music monarch King Sunny Adé plays Wiggins Park in Camden.
Meanwhile, acts are turning up in less-familiar venues. Acclaimed Chicago rock band Wilco - supporting its new album, Wilco (The Album) - plays July 10 at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, with Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band opening. And the Flying W Airport Resort in Medford will host an indie-rock pool party Aug. 1 with Dan Deacon, No Age, and Deerhunter.
Not all the cool shows are outside, however. The a.c. will be on indoors in venues large and small. Beyoncé finally is making it around behind last year's double-sided I Am . . . Sasha Fierce at the Wachovia Center on June 26.
Major Lazer - the high-concept electro-dance band featuring DJs Diplo and Switch, plus Santigold - plays the Electric Factory on June 19, and Fleet Foxes brings its bucolic Beach Boys harmonies to the Factory on July 30.
There's an Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson-hosted pre-Roots Picnic jam session at the TLA tonight, and power-pop supergroup Tinted Windows plays the South Street venue June 18. Sweet-voiced Scottish indie popster Camera Obscura is there June 22. The skinny old glam guys in the New York Dolls headline June 18 at the Trocadero, with the skinny young soul providers Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears opening.
At the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, it's Rosanne Cash on July 9, neo-soul duo Leela James and Dwele the next night, and the New Orleans tandem of Dr. John and the Neville Brothers on Aug. 25.
In cozier confines, South African heavy-rock quartet BLK JKS are at Kung Fu Necktie on Monday in Fishtown, and around the corner at Johnny Brenda's, wiseguy Brit punks Art Brut play Saturday, as does Pittsburgh psych collective Black Moth Super Rainbow on July 25.
Over at World Cafe Live, omnivorous guitarist Bill Frisell stretches out June 14, Afro-pop scion Femi Kuti leads his big band on June 26, and Dave Alvin brings the Guilty Women in on July 10. And if you're up for getting sweaty in a church basement, African-influenced Dirty Projectors plays with African guitarist Vieux Farka Touré on June 17, and Chicago post-rock outfit Tortoise performs July 20.
For the second year running, the coolest only-in-Philadelphia multiact bill of the summer is the Roots Picnic, the all-day extravaganza taking place Saturday at the Festival Pier.
The Philadelphia hip-hop band and stars of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon are again the focal point of a genre-spanning lineup on the blacktop in the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge. And this time, the weather forecast doesn't call for stovetop temperatures to hit 98 degrees.
The Roots - led by drummer ?uestlove and rapper Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, the latter ready to be unleashed after three months of not-so-heavy lifting on the Fallon show - will play two sets of their own.
And crucially, with the assistance of the horn-happy Brooklyn band Antibalas, they'll back up aging hip-hop firebrands Public Enemy in a start-to-finish performance of louder-than-a-bomb album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, the mighty 1988 manifesto that in the opinion of many is the greatest hip-hop album of all time.
Let's see . . . who else will be "all the way live from the 215," as Black Thought put it on "Dynamite!" from 1999's Things Fall Apart? Along with Antibalas, who will play a full set of its own, blues rockers the Black Keys and art-rockers TV on the Radio will also hold forth. Santigold - the version 2.0 moniker of Mount Airy native and Bud Light Lime saleswoman Santi White, formerly known as Santogold - will make her first official Picnic appearance, having made it out only to a pre-Picnic show last year.
And hip-hop fans will get the chance to pass judgment on two much-hyped new MCs on the scene. Morrisville, Bucks County, native Asher Roth will be out to demonstrate there's more to him than his novelty-ish hit "I Love College" would lead you to believe. And Cleveland rapper and Kanye West protege Kid Cudi, who's made a name for himself with the spooky hit "Day 'n' Nite," will offer a taste of his highly anticipated debut disc, Man on the Moon: The End of Day.