Fourth of July concerts, Bucks-Mont Pride Fest, ‘Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!’ and more in this week’s ‘Things To Do’

June 27–30: First Person Arts Festival in Philly, Will Downing in New Jersey and the Super '70s Concert Experience in Delaware are among the weekend’s highlights.

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Bill Kurtis and Peter Sagal at a taping of 'Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!'

Bill Kurtis and Peter Sagal at a taping of 'Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!'

It’s the pre-holiday weekend! With the Fourth of July just one week away, there’s no shortage of activities scheduled. WHYY and NPR collaborate on the live version of “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” Thursday night at the Mann Center. To see some fireworks, head to either the Tall Ship Gazela or the U.S. Army band’s “Pershing’s Own” concert. There will also be a display at the Black Music Month 45th Anniversary celebration on Friday at the Dell.

In Delaware, relive the best of the ‘70s at the Super ‘70s Concert Experience at the Freeman Arts Pavilion on Friday. Award-winning vocalist Tamela Mann headlines the Gospel on Independence concert on Sunday. And, as Pride Month comes to a close, celebrate the LGBTQ+ community at the Bucks-Mont Pride Fest at Abington Arts, also on Sunday.

New Jersey | Delaware | Special Events | Arts & Culture | Comedy | Music

New Jersey

Will Downing

R&B/jazz crooner Will Downing comes to the Levoy Theatre in South Jersey to support “Soul Rising,” released last year. Downing has recorded 27 albums over a more than three-decade career, earning his moniker as the Prince of Sophisticated Soul.

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The Super ‘70s Concert Experience Featuring Super Trans Am

Bell bottoms, lava lamps and shag carpeting are all hallmarks of the ‘70s, but the decade’s music remains its most impactful contribution to pop culture. Seventies music is experiencing a renaissance with the advent of “yacht rock” and tribute bands that are unapologetically stuck in time. The Super ‘70s Concert Experience featuring Super Trans Am plays all the hits you know and love — if your music memories include a turntable and a spindle adapter.

Special Events

First Person Arts Festival

Members of Team Sunshine Performance Corporation rehearse for their contribution to 2017’s First Person Arts Festival. (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)
  • Where: Multiple venues
  • When: Saturday, June 29 – Tuesday, July 2
  • How much: Free

Everyone has a story. And everyone has a chance to tell it at First Person Arts, which hosts monthly StorySLAMs around the city, along with a podcast culled from those stories. The First Person Arts Festival extends the brand further with three events. Saturday’s Speechless Grand Slam storytelling competition awards $250 to its top storyteller. On Monday, the festival continues with a conversation with author Roxane Gay and concludes with a live podcast recording of Beautiful/Anonymous.

Avenue of the Arts Block Party

Wawa’s Welcome America Celebration is the main party on the Parkway on July 4. It encompasses numerous events around the city, including Free Museum Days and several concerts. On Saturday, it takes over South Broad Street for the Avenue of the Arts Block Party. Performers include Carla Gamble, The Sidleys, The Arato Brothers Band and Will Ellsworth, along with food, drink, activities for adults and kids and a noon performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Fireworks on the Delaware

The Gazela is pictured in Philly in June 2015
The Gazela, a barquentine ship whose home port is Philadelphia, in June 2015. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

You can’t ship with us. Head to the Tall Ship Gazela for a unique firework-viewing experience. The ticketed event is family and BYOB-friendly and a way to enjoy Delaware River holiday fireworks from a new perspective.

Wadsworth Day

Wadsworth Avenue is closed to traffic Saturday to celebrate Wadsworth Day, which returns after a hiatus. The family-oriented celebration hosted by 9th District Councilman Anthony Phillips includes a “Shark Tank” competition, community services, food trucks and the Uptown’s “Got Talent” show.

Bucks-Mont Pride Festival

  • Where: Abington Art Center, 515 Meetinghouse Rd.
  • When: Sunday, June 30, noon – 5 p.m.
  • How much: Free, pay as you go

Happy Pride! The month is ending on a good note at the Bucks-Mont Pride Festival at the Abington Art Center. It’s the fourth annual event, and like the previous ones, it includes activities for all ages, food, vendors and live music. DJ Trish oversees the sound. Performers include VinChelle,  The Dead Friends Club, Cheer Philadelphia and Philly Cheer Elite squads and Brazn.

Arts & Culture

‘Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!’

Peter Sagal has hosted “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” since 1998. With 25 years under its belt, it’s fair to say things are going well. The popular quiz show incorporates a panel of listener contestants, comedians and celebrity guests for a humorous look at the week’s news. Winning contestants get a voicemail outgoing message from the host or panelist of their choice.

Last of the Red Hot Mamas

Sophie Tucker was a vaudeville performer who used her moxie and hustle to become an international star. Her raunchy music led her to be known as “The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas.” That’s also the name of the show inspired by her life, which boasts a multicultural cast. Friday’s opening night is Pay What You Wish night. Fifty tickets will be set aside at that rate after 5:30 p.m., so set your reminders now.

Paranormal Cirque III

Some people like their entertainment to be a little… well, different. Those folks should enjoy “Paranormal Cirque III” a twisted take on the contemporary circus. Sure, there are aerialists, illusionists and contortionists, but they’re dressed in spooky costumes and makeup with horror themes. That’s likely why the show is restricted to 13 and up.

Movie Night: The Wiz

  • Where: Bartram’s Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Blvd.
  • When: Friday, June 28, 8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • How much: Free

Ease on down the road (the road leading to Bartram’s Garden), which is screening “The Wiz.” The 1978 film starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross was Motown’s version of “The Wizard of Oz.” The movie is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m., but nature-based activities provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the West Philly Y begin at 7 p.m.


Aida Rodriguez

Puerto-Rican Dominican comedian Aida Rodriguez has been mining all the comedy from her dueling ethnicities and her painful childhood she can. She’s a fixture on the standup circuit and in 2021, starred in her own HBO Max comedy special “Fighting Words.” Her memoir “Legitimate Kid” came out earlier this year, and she’s in town for a show at City Winery.


Chris Brown: 11:11 Tour

Controversy has done everything but derail Chris Brown’s career. Though his past did keep him from the 2022 American Music Awards Michael Jackson tribute (he was asked to do it, then asked not to), a seven-minute clip of the rehearsal has been viewed more than 2 million times. He’s in town on his 11:11 Tour at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Black Music Month 45th Anniversary Celebration Concert & Fireworks

June is Black Music Month, officially designated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. The 45th anniversary is marked by a concert featuring some of the people who have contributed to its rich history. Dyana Williams, the local godmother of Black music will host; Laurin Talese, Jean Carn, Omar Wilson, Lady Alma and more will perform. And fireworks will come from more than the music, as the night ends with a fireworks display.

Luther Re-Lives Featuring William “Smooth” Wardlaw

Luther Vandross was one of R&B’s greatest vocalists, so it is fitting he’ll be honored with a tribute performance during Black Music Month. William “Smooth” Wardlaw recreates the musical prowess of the performer whose hits include “Never Too Much” and “Here and Now.” His Luther Re-Lives concert will likely include those signature songs.

Gospel on Independence: Featuring Tamela Mann

  • Where: Independence National Historical Park, 599 Market St.
  • When: Sunday, July 30, 7 p.m.
  • How much: Free

Singer Tamela Mann headlines Gospel on Independence, the annual concert centers on spiritually based artists. She’ll be joined by the Welcome America Mass Choir, under the direction of Zak Williams and Austin Woodlin. WDAS’ Patty Jackson hosts the event which will center around the theme of love as stated in 1 Corinthians 13:13. It’s a BYOB event, and in this case, that’s bring your own blanket — or lawn chair.

U.S. Army Band’s ‘Pershing’s Own’ Concert + Fireworks

The U.S. Army Band’s “Pershing’s Own” is playing their annual concert with fireworks on Saturday night. If you’re wondering where the Pershing part of the name stems from, it’s due to the band’s founder General John J. Pershing. We think he would appreciate their annual patriotic playlist, played in the birthplace of democracy.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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