The summer of 2013 pop-music schedule at the Jersey Shore is not quite so star-studded as last year. Atlantic City got a boost in 2012 with Beyoncé christening the then-brand-new Revel casino. Bader Field hosted Metallica's Orion music festival, which has moved on to Detroit, another town seeking revitalization via rock.
Still, there will be plenty of marquee names playing down the Shore this season: Willie Nelson, Mary J. Blige, Ke$ha, Sting, Pitbull, B.B. King, Steely Dan, and, yes, Beyoncé are all coming to Atlantic City between now and Labor Day.
Outside the orbit of the gambling town, there's noteworthy action, ranging from farther up the Garden State Parkway in Asbury Park, to Dover, Del., where the second Firefly Music Festival will set up shop in June on the way to the beaches of Delaware Bay.
Things start to kick into gear Memorial Day weekend in Atlantic City, with Southside Johnny at the House of Blues on May 24 and Mary J. Blige at Caesars on May 25-26. On those same two nights, however, the most stupid fun of the weekend will be had at the Golden Nugget, on a tag-team double bill with Ke$ha and Pitbull.
At the Borgata, the entertainment schedule is a mix of marquee comedians like Tracy Morgan (June 22), Seth Myers (July 13), and Lewis Black (Aug. 23-24), with mostly elder, nonraucous pop acts like Sting (June 14-15), Jackson Browne (July 5-6), and Diana Ross (Aug. 18). A higher-decibel level will be achieved, at least via the screaming of the crowd, when the Jonas Brothers play July 26.
The coolest Chicano rock tour in history plays the Music Box at the Borgata on July 12, with Los Lobos, Alejandro Escovedo, and Los Lonely Boys. And the Borgata holds onto a hipness edge with the electronic dance music club mur.mur, which reopens after renovations with VICE on Saturday, and will bring in Steve Aoki on Monday.
At Revel, the two big-name acts on the docket so far are Steely Dan and Depeche Mode at Ovation Hall on July 19 and Aug. 30, respectively. Revel is also starting to book acts at its smaller venue, The Social, with Icelandic indie rockers Of Monsters and Men on June 9 and ZZ Ward on June 14.
On the road again in his ninth decade, Willie Nelson plays Caesars on June 8. Fellow octogenarian B.B. King plays the blues at Trump Taj Mahal on Aug. 10, with Peter Frampton and Sonny Landreth. Soul man Anthony Hamilton is at the House of Blues on June 7, and Lyle Lovett plays the Golden Nugget on July 19. And the day after she plays the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, before she returns for Made in America on Labor Day weekend, Beyoncé will play Boardwalk Hall on July 26.
Up in Asbury Park, the Bamboozled music festival, which took over the town last August, is taking the year off. The Stone Pony will be busy, though, with Gaslight Anthem on May 25 and 26 (with the Hold Steady and Felice Bros. opening, respectively), Deer Tick on June 14, and The Specials on July 20.
Seattle country band Zoe Muth & the Lost High Rollers play May 30 at the Cape May Convention Center. Between the city and the Shore, the Camp Jam in the Pines takes place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, in Monroeville, N.J., with Donna the Buffalo, Big Sandy & the Fly-Rite Boys, and New Riders of the Purple Sage, among others.
The Appel Farm Art & Music Festival happens June 1 in Elmer, featuring Iris DeMent, Low Cut Connie, and Delta Rae, among others.
In Dewey Beach, Del., the Bottle & Cork has George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic on June 21, Shooter Jennings on July 11, and Kellie Pickler on July 25. Up the road in Rehoboth Beach, Bill Callahan (formerly Smog) plays Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats on June 1. And at Dover, Del., Firefly goes off from June 21-23, with an impressive lineup that includes Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Vampire Weekend, Kendrick Lamar, and scores of others.