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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 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
07/07/2009 - He Prepares for Summer Ballpark Tour With Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson - Written by Craig Shelburne

During a recent visit to the CMT offices, John Mellencamp was asked about the treatment for his latest video, "A Ride Back Home."

"Treatment? I don't know what that means," he replied. Luckily his duet partner -- Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town -- steps in.

"Well, he's the video treatment because he always comes up with the concepts, so he just runs with whatever he wants to do. It's not the traditional way of soliciting treatments," she explains, referring to the common practice of asking video production companies to submit ideas.

"Oh, I have never done that," Mellencamp says, softly. "I have made 50 videos. I think I did that one time, and I didn't like that experience. I made a video in 1984 called 'The Authority Song,' and I was on tour and I was very busy, and the record company hired some guy Read More
07/06/2009 - By Sean Clancy

John Mellencamp Life, Death, LIVE and Freedom Hear Music ABacked by a crack band, the former Johnny Cougar rips through (and generally improves the vocal performance of) eight of the tracks from his excellent folk-rock album from last year Life, Death, Love and Freedom on this tour souvenir EP.

These no-frill live versions of Mellencamp-penned songs have no overdubs or studio enhancements, and they reveal an angry singer in magnificent voice. Based on his recent work, Mellencamp sounds determined to bring tough-minded sincerity back.

Click HERE to read the review on their website. Read More
07/06/2009 - By Andrew S. Hughes - Tribune Staff Writer
SOUTH BEND — A hard rain didn't fall, but a persistent one did for about half of Saturday's concert at Coveleski Stadium by Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp.

For the most part, the inclement weather didn't dampen the spirits of the record-breaking concert crowd of more than 8,500 people, although the audience seemed most alive and energetic during Nelson's rousing closing set, after darkness and falling temperatures chilled the air.

The eclectic acoustic quartet The Wiyos opened the concert with a fun, half-hour set of Western swing and country-blues that fit perfectly with the music of the three headliners.

Mellencamp, of course, opened with "Pink Houses" and its refrain, "Ain't that America, home of the free," while violinist Miriam Sturm and accordionist Troye Kinnett provided the fireworks in the first of several intense duet instrumental breaks during Mellencamp's s Read More
07/05/2009 - Roots Rock - Sun Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Mellencamp never plays by the rules. On his 2008 tour, he played several songs from his magnificently grim Life, Death, Love and Freedom CD before it was released. Now, he's compiled eight of them (three of which were recorded at his Toronto and Red Deer shows) into this superbly stark live set -- the first concert disc of his 30-year career. We'd ask for more, but why bother?

Click HERE to read the article on their website.
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07/03/2009 - One of the most eagerly anticipated summer concert tours kicked off big-time last night when The Bob Dylan Show Featuring Bob Dylan and his Band, John Mellencamp, and Willie Nelson opened at the GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Illinois.

Following Willie's typically easy-going and effortlessly crowd-pleasing lead-off set, John and his band took full control with "Pink Houses." The sun was setting on the beautiful 80-degree day, the stadium and field were packed, and John (looking cool in jeans, longsleeve shirt, black vest and shades) was clearly rocking in his first U.S. concert appearance of the year-not counting his special appearances at the Obama inauguration and Pete Seeger birthday celebration.

A slow, smoldering version of "Paper in Fire" followed, giving way to a revival of "Deep Blue Heart," the "Cuttin' Heads" duet with Trisha Yearwood that John looks to highlight on his forthcoming box set "On the Rural Route 7609." Here it was marke Read More
07/03/2009 - Daniel Durchholz - SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
Bob Dylan's 2007 concert at the Fox Theatre provided an indelible moment when
opening act Elvis Costello joined the iconic singer on stage for an impassioned
duet of Dylan's "Tears of Rage."

With Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp on board for Dylan's summer tour of
minor league stadiums, the opportunity for special collaborations would seem
ripe. Unfortunately, none materialized at the tour's kickoff at GCS Ballpark in
Sauget on Thursday.

It seems silly to complain about what didn't happen during an idyllic July
evening spent outdoors in mild temperatures, listening to three legendary
singers, even the least of whom is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. But the show
lacked that special moment that would have taken it to another level.

Then, too, Dylan's set was somewhat problematic. His famously ravaged voice
ranged from a wizened moan to an asthmatic wh Read More
07/03/2009 - By Jeffrey Lee Puckett

John Mellencamp is getting the third-wheel treatment on this summer tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. But when the infield dust settles Wednesday at Louisville Slugger Field, Mellencamp will be the last man standing.

He's a compelling performer and total pro who paces his show like a perfect mix tape, and even the most hard-core Dylan fan won't resist "Jack & Diane." Mellencamp has always thrived on stage, but this is his first live album, and since it repeats the same eight songs on last year's acoustic "Life, Death, Love and Freedom," it's only $8.

Mellencamp recasts half of that album as rock 'n' roll and keeps the other half acoustic. The ruminations on growing old and living in a struggling America turn urgent and more immediate with a band. "My Sweet Love" is more fun, "If I Die Sudden" more scary, and all of it's more vibrant.

Click Read More
07/02/2009 - 4 out of 5 stars
“Life Death Live and Freedom” is a riff on the title of John Mellencamp’s recently released studio CD, “Life Death Love and Freedom.” It’s a novel idea, releasing live and studio versions almost simultaneously. And it’s a good thing; these songs were meant to be performed live, they were written in the folk tradition, the troubadour tradition, in which a song traveled from one singer to the next, morphing along the way. Living, in other words. These literal soundboard recordings, with no studio overdubbing, have an immediacy that elevates them even beyond their original, already formidable quality. When Mellencamp sings about mortality in “If I Die Sudden,” “Don’t Need This Body” and “Longest Days,” you feel the physical and psychic aches. “Troubled Land” has a guitar bite that sharpens its political edge. And the closer, the gentle rocker, “My Sweet Love,” with Dane Clark’s retro-funk drumbeats keeping time, is, well, sweet. Mellencamp may be contemplating dying, but musically, he’s mor Read More
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