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08/09/2009 - With “Life, Death, Live and Freedom,” (Hear Music) John Mellencamp is giving his fans a snapshot of the history of his 2008 release “Life, Death, Love and Freedom.”

Before the tracks were released on that CD, Mellencamp road-tested the songs on tour to thousands of fresh ears. In the midst of “Pink Houses” and “Jack and Diane” he would mix in totally unknown songs to test the waters with the audience. What you hear on this disc are untouched soundboard recordings from those shows.

Musically, the eight songs on “Life, Death, Live and Freedom” are introspective. They range from the politically charged “Jena,” written about the racially volatile Louisiana town of the same name, to “Longest Days” in which Mellencamp revisits time spent with his late grandmother. All of the songs are stark and organic, hitting the audience with unfamiliarity, which in turn allows them to deliver their message untouched by publicity.

That is what this CD is about.

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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, Read More
08/09/2009 - Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan: Three men, three radically different perspectives on American music.

This triumvirate of talent took over center field at QuikTrip Park on Friday night, spending just over 3  1/2 hours entertaining a relaxed crowd in an atmosphere that felt more akin to a family-friendly carnival than a rock concert.

Nelson took the leadoff spot, knocking out a tight 60-minute set that followed all the familiar curves, from opener Whiskey River to the tender and terse guitar solos, as much a Nelson signature as his bandannas and drummer Paul English. In fact, it was a downright frisky performance from the Red-Headed Stranger, doubtless stemming from the fact that the setting sun bore down on Nelson and the gang for their entire time onstage, urging them hastily onward.

Next up, Mellencamp powered his way through an hourlong performance that underscored his metamorphosis from angry young man to ruminative roots-rocker in the autumn Read More


Jam Productions regrets to inform you that The Bob Dylan Show at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, AZ on Tuesday, August 11 has been cancelled. The concert will not be rescheduled.

Given the weather forecast and excessive heat predicted for Tuesday, August 11 in the Phoenix area, it has been determined that these conditions have the potential to cause a serious health risk to the public, as well as the working personnel at the venue. After careful consideration, it has been determined that this potential risk is too great for all involved.

While we understand that this will cause an inconvenience to those who purchased tickets and were looking forward to the show, the potential for serious heat-related injury resulting from extended exposure in these conditions brought us Read More
08/08/2009 - It’s nothing new for John to give fans up front a shot at singing a verse of “Hurts So Good,” but at his stop at Corpus Christi’s Whataburger Field on Wednesday with The Bob Dylan Show, he gave one Texan fan the whole song.

He had revealed after the first few songs that he was “sick as a MF-er,” and while he and the band sounded as good as ever, one reporter observed that he did seem “a little more gruff than usual.” But he refused to cancel his part of the show, and after he told everyone that he had determined “I can’t do that to those people,” they were solidly behind him the rest of the way.

When it came time for the closer, he relied on Michael Carranco, a 37-year-old custodian, who was right at the front of the stage in a vintage Mellencamp “American Poet” t-shirt, who was noticeably singing along with every song. He picked the anxious fan after declaring that he needed some help from the crowd, and then sang backup for him for the song.

Interviewed l Read More
08/06/2009 - Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan play Whataburger Field - By Rob Boscamp

Susan Gause wasn’t surprised by the star power accompanying Bob Dylan Wednesday night at Whataburger Field.

She thinks his concert with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp is an idea that has been 20 years in the making, and has the papers to prove her point.

Gause of Houston brought an interview with Dylan from the L.A. Times to Wednesday’s show hoping she could somehow get it autographed.

In the story Dylan mentions he’d like to record with Willie.

The publication date: Aug. 5, 1984, 25 years to the day of Wednesday’s show.

“I just realized that two nights ago,” she said.

She also brought a 1987 Rolling Stone interview in which Dylan was quoted saying: “... John Cougar Mellencamp, he’ll be around longer than anybody will be.”

The chance to see these three music icons together had the crowd lined up early, even on a day when the Read More
08/05/2009 - Thousands of people flocked to the Dell Diamond on Tuesday to hear music legends Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and John Mellencamp play. The three are on tour together this summer.

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08/03/2009 - By William Kerns | A-J ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
Never let it be said that a person cannot juggle sports and the arts, especially during one's younger years.

Mike Wanchic is one of the great examples.

After all, Wanchic is known primarily as a good friend, career adviser, recent co-producer and, most important, lead guitarist for John Mellencamp for more than 30 years.

He also stays in shape during the current Dylan-Mellencamp-Nelson tour with a rigorous biking program each morning, mapping routes to ride with Mickey Raphael, Willie Nelson's harmonica player.

Bob Dylan, Mellencamp, Nelson and the Wiyos will perform in concert Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock.

Wanchic also played college football for his college team at DePauw University.

He explained during a recent telephone interview that his interests were split 50-50 between sports and the arts while growing up.

"My mom was deeply supportive of Read More
08/03/2009 - By Jelisa Castrodale
The July sun was at its most brutal as the crowd started filing into the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Tuesday afternoon, quickly staking out standing room in the outfield grass and spreading their blankets in the base paths.

The baseball field took a break from hosting Triple-A teams like the Buffalo Bisons or Toledo Mudhens to welcome a more formidable lineup of Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan. The trio has been playing one-night only gigs in minor league ballparks since early July, each with a family friendly 5:30 start time. From the ballfield settings to Nelson’s red, white and blue guitar strap to Mellencamp’s familiar “Oh, but ain’t that America” refrain, these events couldn’t be more overtly patriotic without involving apple pies and handguns.

John Mellencamp was up next and proved to be the heart of the order, both because of his spot in the middle of the lineup and because of the amount of energy he packed into his hour-long perfo Read More
08/03/2009 - John, guitarist Andy York, and Life Death Love and Freedom producer T-Bone Burnett recorded last week at Memphis' legendary Sun Studios. “I stood on the X where Elvis stood [to record],” Mellencamp said with a grin the next day during a show in Durham, NC as quoted by writer Jelisa Castrodale. He continued before playing the new cut "Save Some Time to Dream" saying, “It was the most fun I’ve ever had making a record.”

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08/03/2009 - By Mojo Flucke

Sometimes it’s hard to reach into the dark, dank, spiderweb-glazed swamp of memory and grab something from 20 years ago, but this much I remember: In the 1970s through the early 1990s a few select artists like Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Def Leppard, Madonna, Metallica, and yes, Journey, could inspire such rabid devotion in rock fans that they’d flock to stores holding special midnight openings to sell a new record the first minute it was allowed.

Today, the music-biz is so fragmented, rock radio is so weakened, and leaked MP3s/digital streams make the concept of a “formal record release” a notion antiquated as the corset — or at least Valley Girl talk. People buy CDs not for the tactile experience but as a backup hardcopy. Hard to imagine staying up for a midnight record-release party for that.

While Popdose commenters might have their own recollections of when this particular Event-with-a-capital-E stuff died, my official day is March 31, 1992, the day Bruc Read More
08/02/2009 - By Joseph Taylor
Musical Performance-4 out of 5 Stars
Sound Quality-4 out of 5 Stars
Overall Enjoyment-4 out of 5 Stars

John Mellencamp's Life Death Love and Freedom was a career-defining record from a songwriter and singer whose shrewd commercial instincts seem to have kept him from having the hip "Americana" tag hung on him. But with producer T. Bone Burnett's help, Life Death Love and Freedom brought Mellencamp's talents into their greatest focus since 1993's Human Wheels, and the result was a triumph. Best of all, the disc, which was full of warmth and atmosphere, sounded terrific. If the drums on "My Sweet Love" were mixed a little forward, it was a conscious effort to create the right feel for the song, and it worked.

While Burnett helped frame Mellencamp's songs, it was the songs themselves that showed the singer's renewed purpose and talent. By the time the album was released in 2008, Mellencamp had alre Read More
08/02/2009 - By Jim Bessman - Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll? What about cycling?

Key players in the Mellencamp and Nelson factions of this summer’s The Bob Dylan Show with John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson concert tour of minor league baseball stadiums have formed a bicycle club as a healthy alternative to the traditional—if less healthy—means of offstage on the road entertainment.

“It’s my new drug,” says Mickey Raphael, Nelson’s longtime harmonica accompanist. “It’s a lot better than getting loaded on the road--which is what used to be protocol years ago.”

Raphael has formed an as yet unnamed riding club with tour mates Andy York and Mike Wanchic—both longtime guitarists for Mellencamp.

“We like to go out together on our days off,” Raphael says. “We just check the Internet for good places to ride or call the local bike shop because they know of places and sometimes have planned rides. It’s great exercise and a good way to explore the towns we go to.”
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08/01/2009 - By Lawrence Specker

"The Bob Dylan Show," a tour that visited The Wharf in Orange Beach on Friday night, featured a lot of music from a lot of big-name artists. But it can be broken down neatly to things that did happen and things that didn't.

The biggest thing that didn't happen: On a stormy day when fans drove through occasionally heavy rains on their way to the open-air venue, the whole affair didn't get washed out.

John Mellencamp, who played between Willie Nelson and headliner Dylan, indicated that he'd been as worried as anybody. "I looked out my window today," he told the crowd, "and I said, 'Please, God, don't let it rain.' And he didn't."

Mellencamp followed that with a self-deprecating note, conceding that the almighty probably had much higher priorities than parting the clouds for this show. But part they did, as if on cue. And if the audience could see distant flickers of lightning behind the stage th Read More
07/31/2009 - John Mellencamp isn’t wasting any time on his current tour with Bob Dylan.

During off days, he’s busy recording No Better Than This, his studio album follow-up to his acclaimed album from last year Life Death Love And Freedom (a condensed live version, Life Death Live And Freedom, came out a month ago).

But Mellencamp is using a different kind of studio to record No Better Than This, in keeping with his stated intention of making a different kind of album. In fact, the veteran singer-songwriter has called it “a complete change of style—and voice,” since he is recording his new songs in the style of classic folk blues records from the 1930s and ‘40s.

With that in mind, Mellencamp has already recorded at the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia (the oldest African-American church in North America), as well as the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis. Other historic buildings in the South will be used for future sessions, including the Gunter Hotel in Read More
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