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 Aug. 1. 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.
It's like the pop-punk 1990s all over again. The class of the season is Green Day, the northern California trio fronted by Billie Joe Armstrong, which had its rock-opera way with the snide and catchy new album 21st Century Breakdown. The band plays the Spectrum on July 21. Meantime, the reunited No Doubt puts a ska twist on the formula Thursday at the Susquehanna Bank Center, and speaking of reunions, Blink 182 comes to Camden on Aug. 27 on a power-chord package deal with Weezer. And punk-rock summer camp returns to the Susq on July 17 in the form of the Warped Tour with Attack! Attack!, Dear and the Headlights, and about 100 others.
The star power extends beyond the headliners on these three country double bills.
Toby Keith is still getting a lot of mileage out of playing both the amiable good ol' boy and the angry patriot, while hulking Trace Adkins has a world-class baritone and excels as a classic-country balladeer when he has the right material. Adkins and Keith appear Aug. 5 at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden.
It's a stretch to call Keith Urban and Taylor Swift country, but Urban is quite a guitar slinger, and the teenage Swift has shown remarkable songwriting maturity. They appear Aug. 1 at the Wachovia Center.
Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley, two of country's brightest young stars, exude boy-next-door wholesomeness, but they also possess a mischievous glint in their eyes. They will appear with Jimmy Wayne Aug. 15 at the Susquehanna Bank Center.
- Nick Cristiano
When you consider outdoor jams, you don't think of riffs on the 88s, ivory ticklers pounding in the hot sun, or piano men sweating by the pool.
Lang Lang, the toast of Shenyang in Liaoning Province, China, covers the classics July 31 with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann with jazz-bo Herbie Hancock. With no new records to promote, Mr. Philadelphia Freedom Elton John and Bronx bomber Billy Joel reteam Aug. 1 for fun, friendship, and bags of cash at Citizens Bank Park. With a self-penned opera readied for the hot spell (Prima Donna opens in July in Manchester, England), Rufus Wainwright will play Aug. 6 at Longwood Gardens. And on Aug. 15 at the Mann, Philly soul-hopper John Legend strokes the keys at a gig with India.arie . . . who plays just plain old guitar.
- A.D. Amorosi
Its name and venue have changed several times over 15 years, but WXPN's XPoNential Music Festival remains unfailing in its sonic diversity and feel-good vibe. This year's Wiggins Park event July 24 to 26 features nearly 40 genre-spanning acts over three days: everything from Robert Cray's funk-infused blues to the so-called Hillbilly Pink Floyd of Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams. And plenty of local talent, too, including Hoots & Hellmouth, Andrew Lipke, harpist Gillian Grassie, and actor Kevin Bacon, fronting the band he shares with big brother Michael. There's even a special kiddie-music lineup at the all-ages, rain-or-shine event.
- Nicole Pensiero
Two of Britain's greatest gifts to rock music (sorry, Gallagher brothers, it's not you) will hit the Wachovia on June 12. Eric Clapton, meet Steve Winwood. Oh, that's right, you already met - in the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith.
If the performance DVD released a couple of weeks ago is any indication, the two legends are cooking up quite a feast.
You get a little Cream ("Crossroads"), a little Traffic ("Dear Mr. Fantasy"), a healthy helping of Hendrix ("Little Wing" and others), and a main course of Blind Faith (from "Can't Find My Way Home" to "Presence of the Lord").
Dig in, music fans.
OK, we're no Hurricane Schwartz, but we're forecasting a balmy night Aug. 8, when the double bill of Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal comes to the Mann. They've cleverly dubbed the tour BonTaj Roulet.
As often happens with two headliners, they will perform separately and deliver a duet set. Best of both worlds. It's hard to think of a more perfect pairing. You get two extraordinary blues artists who write great songs and have exquisite and eclectic tastes in interpreting the material of others. Two instantly recognizable singers who are also accomplished musicians.
Hey, Hurricane, want to go to a great show?