J. Cole Venue TBD, June 24
J. Cole knew his new album Born Sinner was going to be one of 2013's hottest rap albums no matter what, so he had no problems releasing in on the same day as Kanye West's Yeezus. He even said as much on its track "Forbidden Fruit": ""I'ma drop the album the same day as Kanye/ Just to show the boys the man now like Wanyá." Now it is; Born Sinner's Miguel-featuring first single "Power Trip" (featuring Miguel) has already topped the 500K sales mark.
The first artist signed to Jay-Z's own Roc Nation label, Cole debuted with a splash on Hova's 2009 LP The Blueprint 3 and topped the Billboard charts his first week with his own first album Cole World: The Sideline Story in 2011. For his current "Dollar & A Dream" tour, Cole (@jcolenc) is tweeting the location of each city's show the day of -- we'll RT from our own @hprocksoff, of course -- and donating some of the proceeds to his Dreamville Foundation. Tickets are indeed $1 but will only be available on-site, wherever that turns out to be. CHRIS GRAY
Bonnie Bishop McGonigel's Mucky Duck, June 25
As 12-year-olds go, Bonnie Bishop had a pretty good reason for moving away from the Houston area: her stepfather, former Texas A&M head football coach Jackie Sherrill, relocated the family to Starkville, Miss. to take the head job at Mississippi State University; he eventually took the Bulldogs to the 1999 Cotton Bowl. Bishop, a singer in her church choir in those days, wound up at UT-Austin (who actually beat Mississippi State in that game) and then pursued the musicians' path in Nashville.
Nowadays she belongs to a pretty elite circle of Music City songwriters -- she co-wrote "Not 'Cause I Wanted To," from Bonnie Raitt's 2012 LP Slipstream, with Raitt herself -- including Al Anderson, Mike Reid and Lee Roy Parnell. Though not included on her own LP Free, that song, which Bishop co-wrote with Anderson, was named by The New York Times' Jon Pareles as his No. 1 track of last year. CHRIS GRAY
Leon Russell House of Blues, June 26
Though he's not quite a household name, Leon Russell's gospel-soaked style has infiltrated so much rock and pop of the past 40 years it's practically a genre of its own. The Lawton, Oklahoma native has been a go-to keyboardist, songwriter and partner in crime for almost too many stars to count -- Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker and Willie Nelson chief among them -- and his mellow honky-tonk keys made Russell a crucial player in the Tulsa scene that produced JJ Cale and Dwight Twilley.
Not so long ago Russell got to enjoy a little time in the limelight with The Union, his 2010 tandem album with Elton John that the Rocket Man admitted was his way of saying "thank you" to one of his main mentors. Russell's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame followed in 2011. CHRIS GRAY