Friday July 27
Like a handful of legends before him, Kris Kristofferson has gotten to the point where records don't matter. He's released only a half-dozen or so albums since the '80s, the latest of which, 2009's Closer to the Bone, is one of his all-time best. He long ago settled into the ragged voice that's delivered his songs since 1970's self-titled debut, and he's pretty much an elder statesman of all things Americana these days. Kristofferson's mere presence onstage contains enough electricity to fuel a midsize community. And even though he's never been much of a singer – his folksy drawl strains more than it hits – his songwriting cred has always been solid. Whether singing them himself or made famous by someone else, "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," "Me and Bobby McGee," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," and "For the Good Times" are American classics. The 76-year-old singer-songwriter (and actor and Rhodes scholar and Army officer) comes to the Kent Stage this weekend for an intimate show. – Michael Gallucci
8 p.m. Friday, July 27. The Kent Stage. Tickets: $46-$81; call 330-677-5005 or visit thekentstage.com.
Back in the day, Prophet transformed the Paisley Underground band Green on Red into one of the premier roots-rock groups of the '80s. As a solo artist, he's turned out more than a dozen quietly magnificent albums over the past couple decades, including his latest, Temple Beautiful, a love letter to his San Francisco home. A crafty guitarist, an inveterate road dog, a generous sideman and collaborator, and a compelling and hilarious storyteller and songwriter, Prophet is a modern-day rock icon. – Brian Baker
With the Lawton Brothers. 8:30 p.m. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $15.
Sunday July 29
Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw/Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
B esides the obvious difference in restroom designations, a surface comparison puts Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw (in cowboy hats and wife beaters) squarely in the country column and Grace Potter and her band the Nocturnals (sporting funky thrift-store chic; pictured) somewhere in the middle of the blues-rock category. But it's really not that simple. Chesney and McGraw are top-notch entertainers whose crossover appeal among country, rock, and pop audiences has given them stadium-sized success over the years; Potter's sweaty hybrid of rock, blues, and pop is smaller scaled, made for clubs but big enough to fill an arena. All three artists have new albums: Chesney's Welcome to the Fishbowl came out last month, McGraw's Emotional Traffic was released in January, and Potter's The Lion the Beast the Beat hit the streets six weeks ago. Whatever your personal preference, don't get to Cleveland Browns Stadium too late or leave too early. You're bound to be pleasantly surprised by everyone on this bill. — Baker
With Jake Owen. 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29. Cleveland Browns Stadium. Tickets: $36.50-$250; call 800-745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com.
When it comes to annoying house-music rappers, there's everyone else, and then there's Pitbull. The 31-year-old Miami hitmaker has been inescapable the past year, especially if you go to clubs that specialize in formulaic thumps and bumps. He nearly gets lost among all the guests who show up on his latest album, 2011's Planet Pit, which includes the No. 1 single "Give Me Everything." But then he elbows himself to the front of the line, just like that jackass bro you see at the club every weekend. — Gallucci
With DJ Havana Brown. 8 p.m. Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. Tickets: $45-$79.50.
Monday July 30
Florence and the Machine
Yes, the flowing robes, the murky goth trappings, and the Earth-shaking arrangements can be a bit too much. But Florence + the Machine's frontwoman Florence Welch has carved out a little corner of the alt-rock world with her two albums, 2009's debut Lungs and last year's Ceremonials. Not too many artists these days are capable of creating lushly decorated baroque pop, borrowing Stevie Nicks' fashion sense, and contributing a song to Snow White and the Huntsman that sounds pretty much like the movie's set design. But Florence + the Machine are also making music that aims bigger and grander than almost anything else showing up on the pop charts in the 2000s. In a way, they're a throwback to a time when bands wanted to conquer more than just the clubs or your best friend's iPod with their songs. They wanted to conquer the world. Welch not only sounds like her battle plan was set in motion years ago, she sounds like she's waiting to be crowned queen of the forest. Why not? She already has the wardrobe. — Gallucci
With the Walkmen. 8 p.m. Monday, July 30. Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. Tickets: $35-$49.50, call 800-745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com.
Tuesday July 31
The Head & the Heart
The past several months have been all Letterman, Fallon, Bonnaroo, and Sasquatch for the rootsy the Head and the Heart. The Seattle group's rapid rise over the past couple of years isn't so surprising: They play catchy buskers-style Americana, heavy on shaggy harmonies and scruffy hooks. The band's casual but composed songs about relationships and life struggles are filled with sharp and memorable details. But most of all, the sextet plays friendly, folksy rock that's smart and passionate. — Michael Berick
With Lost in the Trees: 8:30 p.m. House of Blues. Tickets: $20.
Wednesday August 1
Bear in Heaven/Mr. Gnome
We get that Brooklyn indie rockers Bear in Heaven are the headliners of this week's edition of the Rock Hall's "Summer in the City" series. But we're more excited to see our very own Mr. Gnome, who are coming off their best album (last year's Madness in Miniature) and most successful tour. Plus, we can't wait to see how the duo's anything-goes art-rock will go over outdoors with the sun kissing their faces, since their songs are made for dark, airless clubs — a reflection of their great music. — Gallucci
7 p.m. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Tickets: Free.
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