There's plenty of rock and hip-hop concerts that get plenty of publicity - Lollapalooza, Coachella, South By Southwest - all these events and more get plenty of mainstream coverage. But a lot of the time, R&B/Soul festivals get overlooked. So if you're looking for outdoors live music this summer, here's a list detailing some the festivals taking place in the U.S. and beyond from Memorial Day (May 26) through Labor Day (Sept. 1). Lineups are always subject to change though, so for the most updated info and/or to buy tickets, click the Vendor's Site or More Info tabs to visit the festivals' websites.
The Essence Music Festival, which is put on every year around Independence Day, is one of the biggest and best R&B music festivals year after year, and usually has a very strong lineup of contemporary and classic R&B and Soul artists. Here's a partial list of this year's performers:
LL Cool J
Mary J. Blige
Morris Day & The Time
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly
Summer Jam - June 1 (East Rutherford, NJ)
Summer Jam, which is held annually in the New York/New Jersey area by urban radio station Hot 97, is well-known for showcasing hip-hop, but the shows have had plenty of R&B in years past. This year, the one-day event features Alicia Keys, Rihanna, The-Dream and Ray J, among others, as featured performers. The show's already sold out, but if you're desperate to go, there are plenty of area ticket brokers who can hook you up.
SummerFest isn't an R&B or Soul-specific festival per se
, but the massive event, which is billed as "The World's Largest Music Festival," does showcase some R&B talent every year along with rock, pop and alternative artists. Among the big-name artists performing this year are Stevie Wonder (June 26), Alicia Keys (July 1), Sean Kingston (June 30), Bootsy Collins (June 30) and Earth, Wind & Fire (July 6).
BAM Rhythm & Blues Festival - June 5 to Aug. 7 (Brooklyn, NY)
The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) R&B Festival is a free
outdoor summer concert series happening from noon to 2 p.m. Thursdays on the lawn of the MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn. 2008's lineup features an eclectic roster of legendary and up-and-coming R&B and blues artists.
2008 Artist Lineup:
Jun 5: Lionel Loueke with guest vocals by Somi
Jun 12: Otis Clay and Ryan Shaw
Jun 19: The Skatalites
Jun 26: Orchestra Baobab
July 3: Oleta Adams
Jul 10: Leela James
Jul 17: Phoebe Snow
Jul 24: Alice Smith
Jul 31: Meshell Ndegeocello
Aug 7: Richie Havens with Marcus Carl Franklin
Summer Soul Music Festival - Aug. 28 (Charlotte, NC)
This one-day event, which takes place at Charlotte, North Carolina's McAlpine Park, likes to kick it old school. This year's event is headlined by Morris Day & The Time, and other performers include go-go band E.U. and funk-synth group Midnight Starr. In addition to the music, there will also be comedians, spoken-word poets and soul food vendors onhand.
SummerStage is a series of free - yes, free
- concerts taking place in New York City's Central Park every year. Admission to all performances is on a first-come, first-served basis, no tickets required. Gates for all free programs open 60 minutes prior to performances. Not all shows feature R&B and/or Soul artists, but Mavis Staples and Stephanie McKay open the festival on June 13, and Janelle Monae has a show on Aug. 3. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, the Menahan Street Band and Naomi Shelton all play on the festival's final day, Aug. 17.
The Soul Beach Music Festival, which takes place in Aruba (it's an island in the southern Caribbean Sea), is now entering its eighth year. Erykah Badu, Sean Kingston and Ledisi are among this year's performers.
The St. Kitts Music Festival originally began as a marketing tool to attract visitors to the Carribean island. This year's 12th annual show will feature mostly Carribean artists, but among the performers will be headliner John Legend, plus Mario and British singer Billy Ocean (yes, he of "Carribean Queen" fame).