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Summer Splash | A Calendar of Best Bets

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One of the few complaints about last year's concert teaming of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison was that the artists simply did their own sets and never got together for a few songs.

So the good news this year is that Dylan and tour-mate Paul Simon are expected to do some tunes jointly on their landmark tour, which includes stops June 20 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim and June 22 at the Hollywood Bowl. The year's most surprising tour matchup also might prove to be the most memorable.

If Dylan and Simon were looking for a female partner, they couldn't find a more kindred spirit than Ani DiFranco, a marvelous singer-songwriter who is even more captivating live than on record. Her July 10 date at the Universal Amphitheatre is her most prominent area appearance yet.

In another of the summer's most noteworthy tours, R.E.M. will be playing here for the first time since drummer Bill Berry left the quartet in 1997. And be sure to be at the Greek Theatre (Aug. 9 and 10) and Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre (Aug. 11) on time because the opening act--the veteran rock band Mercury Rev--is a stylish and affecting outfit definitely worth your attention.

Always worth attention are Al Green and Vince Gill, two of the greats of soul and country, respectively. Green, one of the most dynamic figures in contemporary pop for three decades, will be at the Greek Theatre on June 11, while Gill, whose "The Key" album is one of the most accomplished country works of the '90s, will be at the Universal Amphitheatre on July 9.

Other dates to circle: Elvis Costello at the Wiltern Theatre on June 1 and 2; R. Kelly, Busta Rhymes and Nas at the Arrowhead Pond on June 6; Rocio Durcal at the Universal Amphitheatre on June 11; Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney and others at the "This Ain't No Picnic" concert July 4 at the Oak Canyon Ranch in Irvine; Lyle Lovett at the Universal Amphitheatre on Aug. 11; the teaming of Santana and Mana at the Arrowhead Pond on Aug. 12 and 13; and Marco Antonio Solis at the Universal Amphitheatre on Aug. 14.

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