Patti LaBelle | Photo via

One of the great secrets of Philly live music, The Dell kicks off its summer season this week with a headlining performance by Philadelphia R&B / soul / gospel icon Patti LaBelle. The summer continues with a performance by renowned local dance troupe PhilaDanco on July 17th, a July 23rd show starring R&B / pop star Toni Braxton and 90s hitmaking machine Babyface (who played a tremendous set at The Dell last summer), the return of neo-soul innovator Erykah Badu on August 13th, and much more.

An open-air amphitheater nestled in the Strawberry Mansion hills, the city-run Dell has been around since 1935, but in recent years has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance in programming and prominence, with a focus on R&B, soul, funk and jazz. It’s something of a cousin to West Philly’s Mann Center – the venues were both, at one point in the 70s, both named Robin Hood Dell, and both hold over 5,000 seats in their shed – but where the Mann feels secluded in the serene forests of Fairmount Park, The Dell and its adjacent neighborhood are interconnected.

When I caught Babyface and Robert Glasper in a sold-out show at the venue last summer, you could spot members of the local community who couldn’t snag tickets setting up lawn chairs along Ridge Avenue, or bringing a cooler of dogs and burgers over to the park to grill while listening to the show waft up from down the way. Whether by design or by circumstance, concerts at The Dell aren’t just for ticketholders, they’re for everybody, and that’s a wonderful thing. Check out the summer schedule below.

Patti LaBelle & Jeff Bradshaw and Friends & Pamela Williams
Thursday, July 9, 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.

McDonald’s 2015 Inspirational Celebration Gospel Tour
Friday, July 10 @ 7:00 p.m.

Rose Royce, Heatwave, Bloodstone, and ChiLites
Thursday, July 16 @ 7:00 p.m.

Philadanco Annual Founders Day
Friday, July 17 @ 7:00 p.m.

Toni Braxton & Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds & Mint Condition
Thursday, July 23 @ 7:00 p.m.

Fantasia & Johnny Gill
Thursday, July 30 @ 7:00 p.m.

Anthony Hamilton & Lyle Jennings Concert
Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.

Erykah Badu & Estelle Concert
Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.

Stephanie Mills, Boney James & After 7
Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.

Divas Simply Singing featuring Faith Evans, Kelly Price, Carol Riddick, Jaguar Wright, and The Urban Gorilla Orchestra
Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.

Larry Graham & Graham Central Station, Bootsy Collins and Breakwater
Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.

For tickets and more information on The Dell’s summer series, check out the venue’s website.