So many concerts! And, too often, in the same week or even on the same night.
That’s the annual summer dilemma for San Diego music fans. To help narrow your choices, here are some upcoming likely highlights. We’re excluding concerts here that, however promising, are already sold out - take a bow, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, San Diego’s Pierce the Veil, CeeLo Green, The Wailers, The Lumineers, and the list goes on.
Whether rapping or fronting a brassy jazz band, The Artist Formerly Known As Mos Def is capable of electrifying and elevating his listeners. Hip-hop would benefit if more of Bey’s contemporaries shared his eloquence and social consciousness. 9 tonight. The Music Box, 1337 India St, downtown. $35-$55 (must be 21 or older to attend). (619) 795-1337 or ticketweb.com
Fred Hersch and Anat Cohen
The pairing of sublime pianist Hersch and singular clarinetist/saxophonist Cohen is so inspired that their duo concert could be the San Diego jazz event of the summer. Expect a night of ingenious instrumental interplay by two masters of melody and improvisation. 7 and 9 p.m. June 9. La Jolla Athenaeum, 1009 Wall St., La Jolla. $21 and $26. (858) 454-5872 or ljathenaeum.org
Toots and The Maytals
One of reggae’s most enchanting singers, Frederick “Toots” Hibbert suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2013 after being hit on the head with a vodka bottle at a concert in Virginia. His return to the stage here should be worth celebrating. 8 p.m. June 15. Observatory North Park , 2891 University Ave., North Park. $31 (must be 18 or older to attend). ticketweb.com
James Taylor and His All-Star Band
This iconic American troubadour has skipped San Diego on his most recent tours. He performs here with an11-piece band that includes drum great Steve Gadd, noted keyboardist Larry Goldings and former Frank Zappa horn-man Walt Fowler. 8 p.m. June 18. Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena), 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., Midway District. $69-$93.50. (888) 929-7849 or axs.com
12th annual Gospel Festival, featuring Shirley Caesar
This veteran diva’s concerts can have more glitz and showbiz shtick than many other gospel-music shows combined. But when she explodes in glorious vocal exaltation, the glitz evaporates and even the most agnostic listeners might consider a momentary conversion. 7 p.m. June 25. Grandstand Stage, San Diego County Fair, Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. Free with fair admission; reserved seats are $31-$37. ticketmaster.com
Webb’s many credits include writing such classics as Glenn Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” and The Fifth Dimension’s “Up Up and Away,” along with “MacArthur Park” (a hit for Richard Harris in 1968 and Donna Summer in 1978) and “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” (recorded by Joe Cocker, Linda Ronstadt, Joan Baez, Pat Metheny and others). His ultra-rare local gig offers a welcome chance to hear him perform the songs he created. 7:30 p.m. July 8. AMSDconcerts at Laura R. Charles Theater, Sweetwater Union High School, 2900 Highland Ave., National City. $35. (619) 303-8176 or amsdconcerts.com
DCX World Tour MMXVI
The Dixie Chicks haven’t toured the U.S. since 2006, with only one foreign tour - in Europe and Canada in 2011 - since then. Their overdue re-emergence now comes when the country is even more polarized than in 2003. That’s when the Texas trio became national pariahs after Chicks singer Natalie Maines denounced then-president George W. Bush on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Here’s hoping their music soars anew. 7 p.m. July 15. Sleep Train Amphitheatre, Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista. $42-$146. (800) 745-3000 or livenation.com
Gary Clark Jr.
This Texas-bred singer and guitar dynamo performed in February with Bonnie Raitt and Chris Stapleton at the Grammys, where they paid heartfelt tribute to B.B. King. On his own, Clark salutes and extends his deep blues roots with smart, tart songs that frequently ignite onstage. 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2 and 3. Humphreys Concerts by the Bay, 2241 Shelter Island Drive, Point Loma. $40 (general admission, standing room only). (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com
Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals
A standout at last month’s Coachella festival, this Afro-Korean rapper and singer from Oxnard fuses hip-hop, funk and soul with skill, pluck and vision. At 29, he’s forging a truly distinctive musical sound and identity. 7 p.m. Aug. 3. House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Ave., downtown. $20 and $45. (800) 745-3000 or livenation.com
Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy
Either one of these vibrant guitar legends can easily electrify an audience. Their joint tour should be beyond combustible. 8 p.m. Aug. 12. Pala Casino Starlight Theater, 11154 California Highway 76, Pala. $80-$110 (must be 21 or older to attend). (800) 585-3737 or startickets.com