When I interviewed Mayor Michael Nutter last year in the run-up to the Made In America festival, the music-loving chief executive talked about how he hoped the Jay-Z and Budweiser-presented MIA could work in tandem as a tourist draw with the city's annual July 4 celebration on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
That mega-concert, in which The Roots - whose Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter are pictured geeking out with the Mayor in 2011 - are featured performers and the backing band for a host of other acts, drew over half a million people last year, qualifying it, as the Mayor likes to say, as "the biggest free outdoor concert in America."
Part of the plan to raise the profile of what's now being branded as the Philly Fourth of July Jam is to send the message aound the country and world that, as Nutter says, "Philadelphia is the place to come and celebrate the 4th of July" has been to procure a deal with a broadcasting partner and get the show on TV nationwide. That way, it can compete with the Boston Pops, who are shown on CBS, and the Washington D.C. fireworks show, which airs annually on PBS.
That deal has been done, it was announced this afternoon, with an arrangement in which the Philly Jam will be shown on cable channel VH1 as well as hi-def musical channel Palladia. This year's show will also be available to be streamed on VH1.com. Like Made in America, the 4th of July show is produced by Live Nation.
Shawn Gee, who's part of the Roots management team, said in a press release: “While we are proud of our 500,000 person strong audience, it’s only right that the world gets to see the Largest Free Concert in America, even if from the comfort of home."
The good news about this for Philadelphia is that with the addition of a national audience, the quality of the talent pool is likely to get richer at the Independence Day celebration, which has brought in Darryl Hall, Lauryn Hill, Sheryl Crow, the Goo Goo Dolls and Sara Barielles in recent years.
No names other than The Roots have been made known yet for this year's show. Look for an announcement in the spring. Below, Hall and Queen Latifah with The Roots from last year's show.
Previously: Stuck Inside of Eutope with the Copyright Blues Again Follow In The Mix on Twitter