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07/15/2009 - By John J. Moser

Over uneven shows and albums over the years, fans and critics have given Bob Dylan an awful lot of benefit of the doubt, and his Tuesday night show at a sold-out Coca-Cola Park in Allentown showed why. With a career that has meant so much to so many, even mediocre performances of his songs are meaningful, and he's still capable of -- if not great shows -- great moments in shows.

Willie Nelson showed much the same thing, but if the ballpark show had a designated hitter, it was John Mellencamp.

In a 95-minute concert, Dylan sang 15 songs in the grizzly growl of a blues master, sometimes adding inflections that made it seem as if he was imparting life lessons. In a cowboy hat, he leaned into the microphone, sometimes playful, sometimes forceful, sometimes crooning.

He mixed classics with new songs, opening with animated singing on ''Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat'' and ''Don't Think Twice, It's Alright,'' then offered ''Roll Read More
07/15/2009 - By John Moser

In a ballpark, it was appropriate that John Mellancamp hit a home run tonight.

With a six-piece band, he scorched the field, kicking out of the gate with a hard-rocking “Pink Houses,” warmed by accordion, and a dream-like and introspective “Paper in Fire” with violin.

He did a slow burn, alone on acoustic guitar for “Don’t Need This Body,” from his wonderful 2008 disc “Life Death Love and Freedom,” which he introduced as “a song for my generation,” and was joined by just violin and accordian for a wonderful “Small Town.” For that song he laughingly changed the lyrics to note that his wife, model Elaine Irwin – a Gilbertsville native -- was 13 when he wrote it.

The band returned then for a kicking, ominous “Rain on the Scarecrow.”

In all, he did three songs from “Life Death Love and Freedom” in a 12-song, hour-long set. A grooving “Troubled Land” rocked harder than on the disc, with a swirling organ. Also hard rocking was t Read More
07/15/2009 - By Kevin C. Johnson - POST-DISPATCH POP MUSIC CRITIC

Farm Aid featuring Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dave Matthews and John Mellencamp will take place Oct. 4 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Farm Aid organizers will announce today in Soulard.

This is the first time St. Louis or Missouri has hosted Farm Aid, the longest-running benefit concert series, which has raised nearly $35 million since its first show in Champaign, Ill., in 1985.

Matthews said he's excited about Farm Aid finally coming to St. Louis. "I really love the city, and we have fun there," he said. "I'm glad I can bring this celebration of a lot of things to St. Louis, as well as bring an awareness to these unsung heroes."

Those heroes are family farmers, who struggle to remain afloat in the face of regulation and industrial farming that they say favor profit over quality.

"St. Louis is a good location because of the history of farming there," Read More
07/15/2009 - By THOMAS KINTNER - Special to the Courant

Bob Dylan's seemingly endless barnstorming finds him once again playing minor league baseball parks, this time around with John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson. The show at New Britain Stadium Wednesday was a dazzling, powerful survey of iconic American music.

Dylan focused on his electric guitar as he warbled out "Rainy Day Women No. 12 and 35" for starters. He shifted to keyboards for the duration, from the jaunty "The Levee's Gonna Break" to the pulsating "Trying To Get to Heaven," inserting a ringing harmonica break into the latter.

Dylan's singing adheres to no classic notions of phrasing but is effective, almost a sonic italicization that placed the words of "High Water (For Charlie Patton)" in sharp relief against their musical backdrop. His voice provided a gravelly centerpiece in "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" as he and his five-man band segued to a flurry o Read More
07/15/2009 - Live Daily, the music and entertainment website, has launched a John Mellencamp signed guitar contest. One grand prize winner will win a copy of the new live CD, Life Death Live and Freedom, along with a Fender Squire Telecaster guitar signed by John! Don't miss your chance to score a copy of the new CD and a sweet piece of rock memorabilia. Five runner-ups will win a copy of the Life Death Live and Freedom CD. Click HERE to enter. Read More
07/15/2009 - It took an hour just to get out of the city yesterday, but we had the good sense to leave early in the afternoon and made it to New Britain Stadium in New Britain, Connecticut with time to spare before The Bob Dylan Show with John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson began with a brief set by eclectic NewYork acoustic quartet The Wiyos. They more than lived up to their advance notice while we made full use of our catering privileges, their version of Little Walter's classic Chicago blues staple "My Babe" standing out during dinner.

Willie followed, and as Harry Sandler (John's former longtime manager who's back on board managing this tour) noted, "he's been around 70 years and he'll be around another 140." And why not? Willie's show doesn't change, but it's always tops. He sounds as good as ever, plays as good as ever, satisfies as good as ever-and that goes for his band, too. After the set his ace harmonica player Mickey Raphael was excited about his new t Read More
07/15/2009 - By John Moser Allentown's Coca-Cola Park has an admirer in John Mellencamp.

After a blistering, 12-song, hour-long set in the stadium Tuesday, Mellencamp stood outside his silver Airstream trailer in the tour bus area behind the right field wall, unwrapping a pack of Salem cigarettes.

For how intense Mellencamp was on stage, he was mellow and quiet backstage, enjoying Allentown's cool dusk air.

"It's really a nice place," Mellencamp said. Told he was playing the first concert ever at the year-and-a-half-old facility, he said, "Really? I hope we get to come back."

Of course, Mellencamp probably is biased.

His wife, former model Elaine Irwin Mellencamp, is a native of Berks County and knows Allentown well.

Elaine Irwin Born in Gilbertsville, she attended Boyertown High School, where she was a varsity letter winner in track and cross country before entering the modeling industry in 1985. In a 2002 interview Read More
07/13/2009 - By Ken Tucker

Recorded live in 2008, "Life Death Live and Freedom" is a companion piece to John Mellencamp's acclaimed "Life Death Love and Freedom." That said, "Live" stands on its own. The eight-song album is an honest-to-goodness testament to Mellencamp's longevity, artistry and ability to connect with his audience. When "Live" was being recorded, the tunes were new to the audience, which responds enthusiastically nonetheless. "Longest Days," with its stripped-down acoustic guitar and trademark Mellencamp growl, is raw and real. In fact, the album wasn't overdubbed or tweaked in any way—something exceedingly rare these days when it comes to so-called "live" sets. But we wouldn't expect any less from Mellencamp. Other highlights include the driving "If I Die Sudden," "Troubled Land," "Don't Need This Body" and "Young Without Lovers," which turns into a crowd singalong.
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07/13/2009 - In one corner of the culture, it doesn’t get more quintessentially American than baseball, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan, which makes the trio’s minor league ballpark tour a summer ‘09 essential. When the show pulled into Eastlake, Ohio, this weekend, the air smelled like a street fair: fresh-boiled hot dogs and reasonably priced drafts. The crowd standing in the outfield or sitting in general-admission seats was a mix of grandparents in polo shirts, leather-clad Hell’s Angels, indie rockers in black glasses with their button-down parents and as many 10-year-olds as you’ll see at a concert that’s not affiliated with Disney.

At 76, Nelson is still on the road, continuing a career that’s seen him write Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” record with Booker T. Jones and ride shotgun with Johnny Cash. Just after 6 p.m., a giant red-white-and-blue Texan flag unfurled as Nelson sang the first words to his traditional set opener, “Whiskey River.” Dressed in black from hat to boo Read More
07/13/2009 - By Matt Melis

Monday night’s Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, and Willie Nelson concert at Consol Energy Park— home of the Washington Wild Things minor league baseball club — had the vibe of a festival. Each fan who clicked through the ballpark turnstiles had an act he or she was most eager to see. However, with three living legends on the bill, each artist’s contingent was at least curious and often enthused to check out the other sets. So, whether folks were there primarily to see a voice of a generation, a cougar, or a redheaded stranger, no camp of fans was even remotely considering ducking out early or wandering too far off while another icon took the stage.

I’ve never understood the frequent dismissal of John Mellencamp as a “poor man’s Springsteen.” While he may share common influences and even subject material with “The Boss,” Mellencamp definitely has the songwriting chops and hits to rival any act going and has made his indelible mark on modern rock music. Even i Read More
07/12/2009 - John's management and ClubCherryBomb.net are looking for Mellencamp fans to check stores in and around the cities being visited on The Bob Dylan Show tour for copies of John's new album Life Death LIVE and Freedom. This is very similar to the store checks many of you have helped us with in the past. Once again there are rewards for those who check five stores, and random rewards for those who even check one store regardless of if you are in the area of a Dylan show or not! Click HERE to read about the project and please consider helping out! Checks are needed for several cities right now and more helpers are needed for Bethel Woods, NY, Orange Beach, AL, Lubbock, TX, Essex Junction, VT, Aberdeen, MD, Norfolk, VA, Simpsonville, SC, Albuquerque, NM.
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07/12/2009 - By John Soeder - Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic

What was major-league talent Bob Dylan doing in a minor-league ballpark?

The short answer: anything he wanted!

The "poet laureate of rock 'n' roll" (per his campy introduction) headlined a fun concert Saturday evening in front of 6,900 fans at Eastlake's Classic Park (home of the Class A Lake County Captains). Also on the bill were Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp.

Unlike many acts of his generation, Dylan, 68, refused to pander to the masses with a greatest-hits revue. Instead, he showcased rootsy tunes from his most recent albums, including rough-and-ready versions of "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum," "Thunder on the Mountain" and (from his latest release, "Together Through Life"), "Jolene."

He also reached deep into his back pages for the epic "Blind Willie McTell."

The choice of material thinned out the crowd's ranks, Read More
07/11/2009 - Life Death LIVE and Freedom Review - July 10, 2009 - by John Moser

ROOTS ROCK | It was easy in the mid-1980s to think of John Mellencamp as a poor man’s Bruce Springsteen, singing catchy but not terribly original populist roots rock.

But more than 20 years later, Mellencamp shows on his stunningly good new disc “Life Death LIVE and Freedom” and its companion piece, last year’s “Life Death Love and Freedom,” that he’s far better than we ever gave him credit for.

While it may seem he’s tapped into an easy subject – we baby boomers certainly are obsessed with death, or avoiding it – the truth is that Mellencamp is simply being painfully honest, facing his own demons, which just happen to be the same we’re all facing.

And by doing so he’s creating far more interesting music than not only Springsteen, but the type of music Bob Dylan should be doing.

“Life Death LIVE and Freedom” is a collection of eight songs from the studio album recorded as they were road te Read More
07/10/2009 - By Tom Archdeacon

What a a great night to be in Dayton.

That might not be something NCR president Bill Nuti ever said, but then he wasn’t at Fifth Third Field Friday night for the Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson show.

Let me tell you this right off, Mellencamp flat out stole the show. He energized the crowd that jammed the field around the stage and filled many of the seating sections in the two-tier ball park.

I loved everything he did: “Pink Houses,” “Rain of the Scarecrow” and especially “Small Town.” Maybe that’s because I’m from a small town, too. One that’s a lot smaller than Seymour.

“Educated in a small town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another boring romantic that’s me.”


One of the best moments of the night was seeing Willie Nelson share the stage with his son.

I know Dylan was the headliner of the five-hour show, but a lot of people clear Read More
07/09/2009 - By Jeffrey Lee Puckett

Mellencamp related portion of the show review: Mellencamp also did his share of tinkering during a stellar set. His first few songs, including "Pink Houses" and "Paper in Fire," were all hopped up on Delta blues, giving them an ominous quality without diluting the impact of the originals.

And he once again proved himself a master of pacing and dynamics when he steered the show from an acoustic version of "Small Town" to a full-blown rock 'n' roll set before you even realized what had happened. There were some grumblings about "Jack & Diane" being left out, but that screaming version of "Crumbling Down" should have satisfied anyone.

Click HERE to read the entire show review on the paper's website. Review includes a photo gallery from the show. Read More
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