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07/23/2009 - By: Nancy Dunham  - Special to The Examiner

Think of The Bob Dylan Show as something akin to wizened musical gunslingers heading into town.

In the almost half-century that Dylan (age 68), and fellow headliners John Mellencamp (age 57) and Willie Nelson (age 76) have honed their musical chops, boy bands have come and gone -- and these three musical impresarios have faced them all down with aplomb.

"Dylan. I love Dylan. I've always been a huge fan," 19-year-old Taylor Butts of Fairhaven, Mass., told a critic for The Providence Journal. "I've read books on him. Watched movies on him."

Let others scream for Justin Timberlake and Lil' Wayne -- these three headliners with a median age of 67 are pulling in plenty of fans who weren't even alive during their heydays.

Don't believe it? Check out some of the fan boards where postings seem more in line with Jonas Brothers' mania than excitement over these more ma Read More
07/23/2009 - By Carrie White

The meaning of the phrase "party like a rock star" has evolved for members of the bands in Bob Dylan's 2009 Ballpark Tour, which brings Dylan, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp to Norfolk's Harbor Park on Saturday.

"Our priorities have definitely changed," Mike Wanchic, longtime guitarist and bandleader for Mellencamp, said. "When we were young, touring was an adventure and fun - it was all new. But now, we put the music first. The music is our entire focus."

Mickey Raphael, who has been the harmonica player in Willie Nelson's band for the past 36 years, said, "It's definitely a life for a 21-year-old, so we have to pace ourselves!"

Nelson is 76, Dylan is 68 and Mellencamp is 57.

Wanchic, also 57, met Mellencamp in 1976 and joined his band two years later. He said his boss is fiercely competitive. "He's called 'The Little Bastard' because he won't compromise. He won't Read More
07/22/2009 - Jason Mraz, Wilco, Jamey Johnson and Phosphorescent to perform at Farm Aid 2009 Presented by Horizon Organic

ST. LOUIS—Farm Aid today announced an expanded lineup that crosses genres for its all-day music and food festival on Sunday, October 4 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Mo.

Jason Mraz, Wilco, Jamey Johnson and Phosphorescent will join Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, who will perform with Tim Reynolds, at Farm Aid 2009 Presented by Horizon Organic.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Jason Mraz and Phosphorescent to the Farm Aid family and having Wilco and Jamey Johnson back to Farm Aid this year,” said Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Farm Aid. “Every year, artists and bands donate their time to perform on the Farm Aid stage, raising funds and awareness about the critical contributions family farmers make to our country.”

The concert event will celebrate music Read More
07/22/2009 - By Jay N. Miller - For The Patriot Ledger

PAWTUCKET — Fingers were crossed when 9,298 fans arrived at Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium for the Bob Dylan concert Tuesday night, after a day of heavy rains.

“It never rains at McCoy,” said a hopeful Michael Gwynn, Pawtucket Red Sox vice president for sales and marketing.

That was nearly correct: Only the final two songs of Dylan’s encore were punctuated by rain. Aside from a little mist during John Mellencamp’s set, the crowd was able to enjoy a long night of music with no need for the slickers, ponchos and duck boots that passed for stylish attire.

Mellencamp’s hourlong set was superb from start to finish, even if some of his newer material shifts the mood considerably. Mellencamp wasted no time, opening with a fiddle-charged “Pink Houses” and seguing into a seriously potent “Paper in Fire” where his vocals sounded perfect.

Miriam Sturm’s fiddle, transposed with the guitars and accordion in Mel Read More
07/20/2009 - Posted by Mark Bialczak/The Post-Standard

John Mellencamp wanted to know what time period the crowd wanted him to mine.

"Do you want an old song or a new song?" the roots rocker asked.

"Old" boomed back from the crowd.

Mellencamp bartered.

"How about I play part of an old song, then a new song, then an entire old song?" he wondered.

His show. The fans dug the partial old song, a solo version of "I Need a Lover" that showcased Mellencamp's sturdy rock voice and acoustic guitar, just as surely as they ate up the tight, electric band versions "Pink Houses" and "Paper in Fire" before it and "Rain on the Scarecrow," "Crumblin' Down" and "Jack 'N Diane" after it.

They loved turning their clocks back, back, back to those bygone, heard-it-on-the-radio days.

As it turned out, Mellencamp's still got something to say.

Th Read More
07/19/2009 - By Brent Hallenbeck, Free Press Staff Writer

ESSEX JUNCTION — It seems like just about every poetic, folky singer-songwriter is described as “Dylanesque” — the irony being, of course, that the one who really can’t be described as Dylanesque is Bob Dylan himself. His elusive reputation means that you never quite know which Dylan you’re getting in concert: acoustic or electric, wild or restrained, creatively sharp or practically incomprehensible.

The Bob Dylan who showed up with his band Friday at the Champlain Valley Exposition was electric, just this side of wild and mostly sharp. He concluded five hours of music before 10,000 or so fans who also heard from fellow legends John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson (combined age of the trio exceeding two centuries) and the up-and-coming Americana band The Wiyos, creating one of the most memorable nights of big-name musical fire power Vermont has ever heard.

The on-and-off drizzle Friday night was mostly on for Dylan’s s Read More
07/16/2009 -

Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews to headline Oct. 4 all-star concert event

ST. LOUIS—Farm Aid, alongside farmers and food buyers at the Historic Soulard Farmer’s Market, announced today that it will bring its annual benefit concert to St. Louis, marking the first time that the organization will stage the event in Missouri.

“Farm Aid has deep roots in the Midwest that reach back to our first concert in Illinois in 1985,” said Farm Aid president Willie Nelson. “I’m looking forward to bringing my friends together on the Farm Aid stage to celebrate family farmers and the crucial work they do. Farmers do so much more than bring us the good food we all want to eat. America needs family farmers to revitalize our economy and make our country healthy.”

Farm Aid 2009 Presented by Horizon Org Read More
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.
Read More
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