ATLANTIC CITY'S summer entertainment scene has veered to extremes in years past - from the days when only classic nightclub entertainers ruled this gamblin' town, to recent summers when almost every booker seemed to be chasing the youth crowd with of-the-minute acts.
But for this (40th anniversary) summer of love, A.C. will offer at least a little and often a lot of something for everyone. Let's typecast what you're likely to be interested in.
Like to dress up in slinky designer clothes, order pastel-toned cocktails and groove on sophisticated pop music?
You should be coming down for Seal tonight at the Borgata, or the plush jazz pop of Steely Dan, hitting the same joint May 26.
Also sure to wet your musical whistle, Nat King Cole's daughter Natalie Cole lives up to her legendary father's rep June 14 at the Trump Marina. Then smoky chanteuse and darned good jazz pianist Diana Krall gets a lovely leg up (or two) at the Borgata on July 7, on a double bill with trumpeter Chris Botti.
We're likewise putting the stamp of the champ on the B.B. King Blues Festival bill, also featuring Al Green and Etta James & the Roots Band, Aug. 4 at Trump Taj Mahal, and saloon singer par excellence Tony Bennett, Aug. 24-25 at Caesars.
Yeah, there's sure to be some crossover between that first crowd and this one, but what the hey.
We begin this parade of stars with the newly notorious Akon, serving up his soulful hip-hop at the House of Blues on May 25. Then the horn-flared, progressive R&B of Earth, Wind & Fire whips up a storm June 1-2 at the Borgata.
Chances are classic pop stylist Johnny Mathis will get hearts afluttering at the Tropicana on June 22. Then soul balladeer Ne-Yo does up his thing (along with Trey Songz) at the House of Blues on June 29.
On July 21, two fine Philly exports vie for your attention: harmony exponents Boyz II Men at the House of Blues, and Musiq Soulchild at the Tropicana.
Starting July 22, classic street corner harmonizers Little Anthony & the Imperials demonstrate where all that music came from during a multi-night stand through July 25 at Resorts International.
On July 27, A.C. perennial Donna Summer heats up Caesars. Then on Aug. 8, "Dreamgirl" (and Destiny's Child) Beyonce has a date penciled in at the Shore, we hear, though the location has yet to be announced.
This category just keeps on expanding, as both rock musicians and fans aim to outlive the prophecy of the Who's "My Generation." Let your graying freak flag fly!
Oh, and along with those plentiful rockers of bygone decades digging in at the beach, this season also will see the elevation of tribute bands to "name" attractions, from Sticky Fingers (a Rolling Stones homage) June 22 at Trump Taj Mahal to Rain - the Beatles Experience in residence July 27-Aug. 5 at the Hilton.
With his profile raised recently on "American Idol," '60s British Invasion cutie Peter Noone might pull a more diverse than usual crowd as he fronts the current edition of Herman's Hermits at Resorts International, May 26-28.
Also on May 26, the heart of rock 'n' roll still beats as Huey Lewis and the News work their show-band schtick at the Hilton.
Don Henley, master tunesmith of the Eagles and a strong solo act, serves up his best of both worlds in back-to-back shows, June 7 and 9 at the Borgata.
A bit of old and new and a lot that's rainbow-hued is promised June 15 at the Borgata with "The True Colors Tour," a gay-friendly parade of talents ranging from late-1970s and '80s phenoms Cyndi Lauper, Deborah Harry and Erasure to current up-and-comers the Dresden Dolls, the Gossip and the Misshapes. The very out there Margaret Cho adds laughs.
Next night (June 16), Stevie Nicks mixes solo and Fleetwood Mac material at the Borgata, on a bill with Cali rhinestone cowboy Chris Isaak.
Also that day, Joisey's own Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes will rock and sole the Atlantic City Seafood Festival, this year relocated to the Bernie Robbins Stadium (10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 16-17).
Bob Dylan (still a shock as a casino headliner) is back at the Borgata on June 22-23. All four original members of the supergroup Asia are reuniting at Trump Marina June 23.
Chicago and America share memories at the Borgata on June 24. The Doobie Brothers are taking it to the Hilton June 29-30. John Kay & Steppenwolf still snarl like they were born to be wild at House of Blues June 30.
We're looking at Blue Oyster Cult plus the Smithereens at the House of Blues on July 3, the legendary Bo Diddley in the same room on July 6, and a rocking hair band bill of comically perverse proportions - Ratt and Poison - July 27 at Trump Taj Mahal.
Ocean City's Music Pier also throws a few adult-rock-oriented concerts into the shore music mix in July: New Orleans' good-time party-maker Buckwheat Zydeco on July 2; a double bill of John Sebastian (Lovin' Spoonful) and Roger McGuinn (the Byrds) on July 16, then the Grass Roots July 23.
Back in A.C. on Aug. 4, follow the smoke on the water to House of Blues for Deep Purple, or to Trump Marina for Foreigner.
Dave Mason is feelin' all right at House of Blues on Aug. 9, the Moody Blues do up their lush hits at Borgata Aug. 10-11, and Meat Loaf is served in the same joint Aug. 18.
The B-52's buzz bomb the Hilton the same night. And another playful double bill leads us from Quiet Riot to Slaughter at House of Blues on Aug. 31.
If you're in your teens or early 20s, most of the above talent action is probably meaningless to you. But have no doubt that the Shore town has something for you, too.
Like the hollaback double bill of Gwen Stefani and brash British rappa Lady Sovereign at the Borgata on May 27. Or the dark, driving motor that is Tool, boring holes into the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall on June 9.
John Mayer shows off his increasingly schizophrenic (and better for it) ballad and ballsy sides at the Borgata on July 22. The Goo Goo Dolls and Lifehouse will have fans gaga in the same locale on July 27.
An odd yet fairly compatible rock-'n'-reggae double bill matches 311 with the spirit-minded Matisyahu (another act we'd have guessed would say "casi-no") on July 31 at the Borgata.
Oh, and the howlin' Incubus is at the Tropicana on Aug. 6.
Does most of your musical fix come from TV reality shows? If so, you'll be thrilled to welcome "American Idol" country queen Carrie Underwood to Caesars Circus Maximum Theater on May 26.
At the end of the season, the top 10 from this year's competition star in (what else?) "American Idols Live," Sept. 8 at the Boardwalk Hall.
Another made-on-TV phenomenon, "Dancing with the Stars," materializes at Boardwalk Hall on July 6. The cast includes three former boy pop stars turned dancers, all named Joey: Fatone, McIntyre and Lawrence. What are the odds? (The guys get to sing, too.)
Hankerin' to wear your cowboy hat and boots? If Carrie ain't real enough country for you, maybe Reba McEntire will fill the bill, June 29-30 at Caesars.
Also on June 30, friend of country, rock and island music, too, Jimmy Buffett plays for the Parrotheads at Boardwalk Hall. On July 7, spunky Gretchen Wilson celebrates swigging like the boys and making up like a big girl in her turn at Caesars.
Y'all drive careful now. *