John Mellencamp and his band are set to embark on the first leg of the No Better Than This Tour in late October following the August 17 release of his Rounder Records debut album, <em>No Better Than This</em>. The tour, designed as a uniquely formatted "evening with," brings Mellencamp’s music to theater-sized venues, a rare opportunity to experience one of America’s most iconic songwriters and performers in an intimate setting, highlighting all phases of his artistry.
The tour, anticipated to continue through the spring of 2011, will kick off on October 29 in Bloomington, Indiana, where Mellencamp and his family make their home. It continues for four weeks bringing Mellencamp, his band and music to audiences in Nashville, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh and three additional Indiana markets of South Bend, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis with further tour dates pending.
The tour will feature classic Mellencamp material associated with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee over the course of his 35 year long career as well as the new music from No Better Than This. The new album was produced by T Bone Burnett and recorded in three historic locations in the American South: Savannah’s First African Baptist Church, Sun Studio in Memphis and Room 414 of San Antonio’s Gunter Hotel where Robert Johnson recorded in 1936. The sessions were documented on a 55-year-old mono tape recorder using just one vintage microphone at each location. Rolling Stone’s review of the album noted, "Mellencamp has never sounded looser or easier on a record," suggesting the artist was "channeling spirits and stepping into period styles. They fit him perfectly."
As a reflection of the diversity of styles and material that have been a hallmark of Mellencamp’s eclectic career, the concerts are formatted into three segments. These showcase John Mellencamp in an acoustic context, fronting a small combo recalling blues/country and rockabilly roots and with his full rock band. Musicians backing Mellencamp include Michael Wanchic (guitar), Andy York (guitar), Miriam Sturm (violin), John Gunnell (electric and upright bass), Dane Clark (drums) and Troye Kinnett (accordion/keyboards).
Of special note is the fact that the tour’s "opening act," is a documentary film by Kurt Markus entitled It’s About You. Shot on Super8 film over the course of last year’s Bob Dylan-John Mellencamp-Willie Nelson tour of minor-league baseball stadiums, it chronicles the creation of <em>No Better Than This</em> while serving as a cinematic ‘think piece’ on the state of the country at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Markus, whose still work has put him in the front ranks of contemporary American photographers, has been cited for his vision of his work documenting the American West and is the recipient of <em>Life</em> magazine’s Alfred Eisenstaedt Photography Award.
For more, visit mellencamp.com.