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Dallas Morning News: Grand Prairie's QuikTrip Park Concert Review
08.09.2009 - Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp deliver in one-of-a-kind event at Grand Prairie's QuikTrip Park.

Three American roots music icons during one concert event. We're talking about Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan onstage Friday at QuikTrip Park. The show had heft. It felt important, almost one-of-a-kind. Even in sweltering 98-degree heat, surrounded by vendors shilling beer, nachos, kettle corn and soft drinks, you knew you were witnessing three influential men that have helped pave the country, folk and rock landscapes.

The five-hour shindig, which also featured swinging, urbanized Americana ensemble The Wiyos from Brooklyn, was dubbed "The Bob Dylan Show." Sure, he was the headliner. But when you have this kind of artistic caliber among a trio of performers, there really isn't one more important than the others. In fact, a pair of couples sitting next to me immediately admitted that Nelson was the main reason they were there. Mellencamp and Dylan were bonuses, they said.

Mellencamp, the 57-year-old kid of the bunch, had energy to spare as he roared through a 65-minute set backed by a stellar six-member band featuring a violinist, accordionist and upright bassist. The roots rocker tore up "Pink Houses," "Paper In Fire," "Check It Out," "Troubled Land" (from 2008's Life Death Love and Freedom), "Rain On the Scarecrow" and "Crumblin' Down," a tune that boasted a wicked rhythm section.

Yet the storyteller emerged once most of the band exited the stage and Mellencamp, armed with an acoustic guitar, launched into the solemn "Don't Need This Body," and gave us "Cherry Bomb" a capella and a touching new song, "Save Some Time to Dream." That stripped-down portion of his set allowed the passionate singer-songwriter to reflect. It was telling that Mellencamp didn't crank out "Jack & Diane" and "Hurts So Good," his career-launching hits. Those songs are from another time and perhaps a former guise that no longer suits him. The man we have today is akin to a preacher spreading his gospel via thoughtful anthems.

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