The best summer concerts: July

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  • Photograph: Chris Taylor

    Bill Callahan

  • James Blake

  • Photograph: Tim Cadiente

    A Perfect Circle

  • Photograph: John O'Neill

    Levon Helm Band

Photograph: Chris Taylor

Bill Callahan

6 Jennifer Hudson
Beacon Theatre. 8pm; $59.50--$79.50.

7 My Brightest Diamond Win VIP tickets
Battery Park, Castle Clinton. 7pm; free, tickets required.

11, 12 Bill Callahan Win tickets
Poll indie-rockers about their favorite contemporary songwriters, and odds are high that Bill Callahan's name will surface. The grim-faced singer has been on a roll since abandoning his Smog moniker in 2007, culminating in Apocalypse, his cerebral new album. July 11: Music Hall of Williamsburg. July 12: Bowery Ballroom. 9pm; $20.

12 Animal Collective
One of 2009's best live music events was a two-night stand at Prospect Park by avant-pop MVPs Animal Collective; this summer, the ambitious four-piece will coalesce in New York City for the first time since then, testing out their spacey, jammy new material. Celebrate Brooklyn (at the Prospect Park Bandshell). 5:30pm; $35.

12 Kid Rock + Sheryl Crow Win tickets
If we're going with record sales as a barometer of success, there's probably not a bigger bill this summer than cock-rocker Kid Rock and '90s adult-contemporary titan Sheryl Crow. PNC Bank Arts Center. 7pm; $37--$87.

13 James Blake Win tickets
The 22-year-old British wunderkind works at a high level of difficulty by stitching together sonic styles like dubstep and soul; his live show isn't to be missed, because despite the vocal murkiness of his self-titled debut, this bloke can really sing. Webster Hall8:30pm; $25.

13, 15 A Perfect Circle
July 13: Hammerstein Ballroom (at the Manhattan Center), 7pm. July 15: Beacon Theatre, 8pm. $59.50--$95.

14 Tune-Yards
Hudson River Park, Pier 54. 7pm; free.

16 Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival featuring Q--Tip and Friends
Brooklyn Bodega. Noon--9pm; $15.

18 Levon Helm Band + Emmylou Harris with special guest Hayes Carll
We're hoping for a joint version of the heavenly "Evangeline" as these two American survivors share an outdoor bill with singer-songwriter Hayes Carll. Band stickman Levon Helm's voice is iffy these days, but his buoyant drum-set pulse hasn't aged a day; Harris, meanwhile, has an LP's worth of new originals, Hard Bargain, to draw on. Central Park SummerStage. 6pm; advance $40, at the door $50.

19, 21 Rihanna + Cee Lo Green
RiRi preps her shortest shorts for these two super-hot NYC dates with rotund, gleeful soulman Cee Lo. There's a reason why she's among the best-selling artists of all time: Expect to get good and sweaty dancing to songs like "Only Girl (in the World)" and of course, "Umbrella." July 19: Nassau Coliseum. July 21: Izod Center. Time TBA; $39.75--$278.39.

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