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Plenty of hot bands at summer festivals

Destiny's Child, Black Eyed Peas to join Essence tour
/ Source: The Associated Press

Not every hot musical concert will be coming to a town near you. Some of the summer's most anticipated gigs are not tours, but destination music festivals. Among the biggest this year are the return of Lollapalooza as a two-day blowout, and weekend bashes by Vibe and Essence magazines.

Last year, tens of thousands of fans descended on New Orleans for the 10th anniversary of the Essence Music Festival, a three-day jam that featured Prince, Mary J. Blige, New Edition and LL Cool J. This year's lineup, to be held July 1-3, doesn't lack for star-power: Performers include Alicia Keys, Destiny's Child, Kanye West, the Black Eyed Peas, The Roots and Fantasia. There are also returning favorites, such as Aretha Franklin and regulars Maze featuring Frankie Beverly: They close out the festival, which has always been held in the Crescent City.

"That's definitely been one of the favorite cities. We have a thing going with New Orleans," Frankie Beverly said during a recent interview.

The festival also features empowerment seminars and a bazaar of Afrocentric art, jewelry, books and other items. But Essence isn't the only magazine putting on a music festival. The first annual Vibe MusicFest is set for June 10-12 in Atlanta, combining R&B, hip-hop, world and gospel music at the multistage event. The weekend's highlight may be a performance by reclusive singer Lauryn Hill, who's working not only on her first studio album since her Grammy-winning "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," but also a reunion album with The Fugees.

Other acts include West, Mary J. Blige, Big Boi of OutKast and Ludacris. Aside from the performances at the main stage in the Georgia Dome, the festival will feature comedians and daytime exhibits such as a food fair, game tent, inspirational speakers and more.

For those looking for a rock fix, Perry Farrell's musical brainchild Lollapalooza, the former touring festival, will return this summer after a one year-hiatus. Sixty bands will perform July 23-24 on five stages in Grant Park in Chicago, with performances by acts such as the Pixies, Widespread Panic, Weezer, Billy Idol, The Killers, Liz Phair, The Kaiser Chiefs, and The Black Keys.