With initial dates for the first leg of John Mellencamp’s No Better Than This Tour starting at the end of this month, a new set of Mellencamp concert appearances that begin in February of next year has just been announced. 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 new No Better Than This Tour dates commence in early February in New England and continue on to two stops in Canada before heading south to New York, Washington, Philadelphia and into the Carolinas and Florida.
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 album, released by Rounder Records, held the top spot on the Americana Music Chart for five straight weeks and was produced by T Bone Burnett. It was 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." The Americana Music Association honored Mellencamp last month with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, presented by Rosanne Cash.
Tickets bought for the newly announced dates include a digital download of No Better Than This. Details regarding how to redeem the album download will be sent via email a few days following purchase to ticket buyers.
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 No Better Than This 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 extraordinary vision of his work documenting the American West and is the recipient of Life Magazine’s Alfred Eisenstaedt Photography Award. Ticket holders are urged to get to their respective No Better Than This Tour venues on time to be on hand for the film’s start.
Mellencamp noted, "I’m very excited to have the opportunity at this time in my life to go on tour and present these songs in this manner."