Roots want to take July 4 concert to new level

Flanked by the Philly born-and-raised lead singer and iconic afro-bearing drummer of the Roots, Mayor Michael Nutter announced yesterday that the late-night-show house band would do more than headline the Parkway extravaganza this Fourth of July.

As festival “curators,” they’ll also perform sets with fellow performers including Earth, Wind and Fire at an event featuring a special tribute to The Sound of Philadelphia’s 40th anniversary. Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson noted the irony of going to a Wawa after band practices in their younger days and now playing a key role in an event sponsored by the chain.

“What Lollapalooza is to Chicago, Coachella in southern California and Bonnaroo in Tennessee, we want to bring that idea to Philadelphia,” Thompson said of establishing the Fourth as a signature musical event.

Added a clearly hyped-up Nutter, “People will be talking about this like they were talking about Woodstock. … There’s only one place to celebrate the Fourth of July and that’s Philadelphia. I’m pretty excited about it.”

Wawa Welcome America! festivities starts with a Nancy Wilson concert at the Dell on June 23 and concerts on Penns Landing as part of the Taste of Philadelphia event starting the next day. Among the events, a 4.5-ton Wawa hoagie will be available for sampling on Independence Mall. Other performers on the Parkway include Michael McDonald, Estelle, Sara Bareilles, DJ Jazzy Jeff and some “special guests.”

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