In a way, rhythm and blues has become a meaningless label. How is it that one phrase can supposedly incorporate crooner Barry White and trip-hop revivalist FKA twigs? British downbeat singer Jessie Ware and the slick Ne-Yo?
The BAM R&B Festival is in its 21st year, but never has the label of "R&B" applied to such diverse acts as in 2015. This year's lineup includes southern soul singers, African lute players and even a return to the New Jack Swing era. With ten acts spread out across the full spectrum of rhythm and blues, it can be hard to figure out exactly what an individual act might sound like. To that end, weave broken down the schedule to give you a hint on who to see, based on more than a two-letter designation that's been stretched beyond meaning.
Date: June 4
If You Like: Double entendres and southern blues
Song to Stream: "Bowlegged Woman"
Andra Day (featuring Kate Davis)
Date: June 11
If You Like: Retro soul in the Billie Holiday/Nina Simone mold
Song to Stream: "Forever Mine"
Date: June 18
If You Like: Gospel soul, with everything from talkboxes to guest rap appearances
Song to Stream: "Help"
Al B. Sure!
Date: June 25
If You Like: New Jack swing and unnecessary punctuation
Song to Stream: "Nite And Day"
King Sunny Ade and His African Beats
Date: July 2
If You Like: Afro-beat guitar with the spirit of Bob Marley
Song to Stream: "Ja Funmi"
Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba
Date: July 9
If You Like: West African lute (think the banjo) and dancing
Song to Stream: "I Speak Fula"
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic
Date: July 16
If You Like: Every early-a90s west coast hip-hop song
Song to Stream: "One Nation Under a Groove"
The Jones Family Singers
Date: July 23
If You Like: Contemporary gospel with a southern twang
Song to Stream: "Leaning On You"
Date: July 30
If You Like: Grown-up jazz funk with a trumpet
Song to Stream: "The Fundamentals"
Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen
Date: August 6
If You Like: New Orleans jazz and keyboard-centric soul
Song to Stream: "When You Get Back"
IF YOU GO: BAM R&B Festival takes place on Thursdays from noon-2 p.m., starting on June 4 at the MetroTech Commons, corner of Flatbush and Myrtle Avenues, Brooklyn, 718-636-4100, free.