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July 05, 2017

Weekend Music Picks: John Mellencamp, James Taylor and more

Thursday, July 6

John Mellencamp @ The Mann

In the four decades or so since John Mellencamp began releasing music, he’s grown into a reluctant star. The blue collar songwriter has shunned spotlight as a matter of course, nonetheless recording and touring relentlessly throughout the latter half of his career. Now, after more than a decade of sidestepping easy paychecks—”I took myself off the beer and circuit tour a long time ago” he recently told an interviewer —he’s back on tour with a new album. He’s currently crisscrossing the country and will be accompanied by the folksy country legend Emmylou Harris when he stops by The Mann later this week.

Show 7 p.m. | With Emmylou Harris and Carlene Carter | $25+ | All ages

Friday, July 7

Mad Decent Block Party @ Festival Pier

Over the last ten years, Diplo’s homegrown Mad Decent Block Party has built up an infamous renown. But after years of brand-building, the local-turned-worldwide day party scales back for its tenth anniversary, and this year there will only be two: the Philly edition this upcoming weekend and a Denver bash later this summer. For the Philly crowd, Diplo has gathered up a tight-knit roster of mostly locals, including Mad Decent veteran Swizzymack and the ascendant viral star Matt Ox.

Show 5 p.m. | With Diplo, Flosstradamus, 4B, Swizzymack, and Matt Ox | $10+ | 18 and over

Mitski @ Union Transfer

Mitski is the type of recklessly vulnerable artist that can leave you on edge. But that same uneasy catharsis is radically empowering throughout her last album “Puberty 2,” in which she pulls you in with geniusly simple distorted guitar riffs and then disarms with the matter-of-fact over sharing of her lyrics. “Puberty 2” is the fourth album in the 20-something’s growing catalog, but it’s also her first opus, in which everything clicks and she finds her stride. That in itself is no small feat, but that Mitski can translate all this into a compelling rock show is the final piece in her looming star power.

Doors 7:30 p.m. / Show 8:30 p.m. | With Half Waif and Julia Jacklin | $18-20 | All ages

QThree/EARDRUM @ Nocturnal Skateshop

The local polymath Quinton Russ is a man of many names and talents, but when he’s behind the boards (or in the booth), there are only two you need to remember: QThree, that’s his rapper name tag, and EARDRUM, a producer alter-ego. Russ is also a visual artist, and he combines that triple-threat approach to his many creative projects. Later this week he’ll debut his new instrumental album “Deaf Note” at an open-to-the-public listening event on South St. Russ himself will soundtrack the release celebration with help from fellow Philly head DJ Krouse.

Show 7 p.m. | With DJ Krouse | Free | All ages

Saturday, July 8

Charlie Wilson @ The Mann

R&B legend Charlie Wilson started his career as the frontman for crossover funk outfit The Gap Band all the way back in the early ‘70s, but he’s launched an endearing return to fame over the last decade. Besides working with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg, and Kanye West, Wilson has released his own Grammy-nominated solo music during his recent victory lap. This weekend the 64-year old star will bring his new and greatest hits out to The Mann.

Show 8 p.m. | With Chante Moore | $20 | All ages

Alex G @ Union Transfer

The prolific albeit squirrely songwriter Alex Giannascoli hasn’t always left discernable breadcrumbs for his fans to follow. He’s fiddled with his stage name, experimented with song structures that are both traditional and formless, and unceremoniously self-released his own music before signing a major label deal. But all along he’s let his artistic impulses run free, and that approach has yielded a catalog brimming with wonderful, deeply personal music. His latest, “Rocket,” finds him adopting a new moniker, (Sandy) Alex G, for one of his most powerful statements to date.

Doors 7 p.m. / Show 8 p.m. | With Japanese Breakfast and Cende | $16-19 | All ages

Sunday, July 9

James Taylor @ Wells Fargo Center

The soft-sung legend James Taylor is a road warrior, a relentless touring musician who never seems more than a few hours removed from playing a show. It’s fitting that he seems so at ease on stage, but it’s no small feat that his soothing songs translate so well for enormous crowds. Over the last couple decades, Taylor has left most of his energy on stage and has only recorded new material sporadically. But if you’re buying a ticket to one of his shows in 2017, it’s probably because you’d like to be cradled in the familiar, and Taylor has a knack for conjuring up that nostalgia with smash lullabies like “Fire and Rain,” “Sweet Baby James,” and the rest.

Show 7:30 p.m. | With Bonnie Raitt | $36-130 | All ages

Taylor McFerrin @ Parks On Tap Jr. Beer Garden

The son of the legendarily bubbling “Be Happy” singer Bobby McFerrin, Taylor McFerrin has an avant-garde approach to making jazzy, soulful electronica. The younger McFerrin’s music is, at turns, hypnotic and funky, an enviable skill set he deploys as both a producer and expert DJ. McFerrin’s Sunday set on MLK Jr. Drive is the first of many free shows taking place in Fairmount Park over the summer as a part of the Twilight Music Festival.

Show 7 p.m. | Free with RSVP | 21 and over