A special performance of American heartland singer-songwriter John Mellencamp is the first Grandstand show announced for the 2017 Great Allentown Fair.
Mellencamp is the first artist announced to play 165-year-old agricultural fair. Tickets for the John Mellencamp concert will be available at the Fair Box Office, online at Ticketmaster.com and over the phone at 800-745-3000 sSarting Friday, February 17 at 10 a.m. They are $89, $75 and $59 and include admission into the fair.
A Mellencamp performance has been a rarity in the Lehigh Valley and a never-before occurrence at the fair. This summer the Grammy Award winner embarks on a tour that includes some of the nation’s top agricultural fairs.
His commitment to Farm Aid, the nonprofit organization he co-founded in 1985, raised over $48-million to keep family farmers on the land through a resilient family farm system of agriculture. Fair Talent Buyer Bonnie Brosious remarked, “This Hall of Famer with an iconic Americana songbook is a true champion of American farmers. To have him perform at our 165-year old agricultural fair that recognizes the achievements of farmers, gardeners and homemakers is an honor.”
Currently and through September, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame based in Cleveland is featuring a special exhibit of artifacts representing the life, art and music of Mellencamp. Calling the Indiana native “one of rock and roll’s most enduring artists,” Hall of Fame President/CEO Greg Haris said, “His authenticity and ability to tell stories that resonate with multiple generations of fans is testament to his art.”
Spanning more than 35 years, Mellencamp’s career in music has seen him transition from pop star to one of the most highly respected singer/songwriters of a generation. He is not only a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a Grammy winner, he is a recipient of the John Steinbeck Award, ASCAP Foundation’s Champion Award, The Woody Guthrie Award and Americana Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award and more recently, the Founders Award, the top honor assigned by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
He is also one of the most successful live concert performers in the world. The social activism reflected in his songs helped catalyze Farm Aid, the concert series and organization that has addressed the struggle of American family farmers for more than 25 years.
Mellencamp’s classic hits that are indeed stories of middle America include “Small Town,” “Authority Song,” “Jack and Diane,” “Hurts So Good,” “Crumblin’ Down,” “Lonely Ol’ Night,” “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” “Rain on the Scarecrow,” “Check it Out,” “Cherry Bomb” and many others.
The unique instrumentation of his band and his poignant songs about everyday life in the American heartland are widely credited with being the forbearer of the Americana/No Depression genre of rural-inflected music.
Mellencamp’s upcoming 23rd full-length album, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies featuring Carlene Carter, is set to be released in April followed by an upcoming summer tour in major cities across the country. Sad Clowns & Hillbillies returns him to the musical eclecticism that is, itself, a reflection of his wide-ranging musings on life and showcases a poet who has wisely used the years between youth and the present day to become an absolute master of songwriting and interpretation.
He also wrote the title song for the upcoming film, The Yellow Birds, an American war film directed by Alexandre Moors and based on the novel The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, Alden Ehrenreich, Jennifer Aniston, and Toni Collette.
Beyond his extraordinary music career, Mellencamp is also recognized as an accomplished painter fusing German expressionist and American neo-expressionist styles. Not surprisingly, his oil painting subjects are everyday Americans much like the characters in his popular songs.
His painting style has progressed over the years represented in several gallery shows and published portfolios, and in recent years he has increased his output completing over 100 new works. His pieces were shown in 2012 at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville under the title “Nothing Like I Planned: The Art Of John Mellencamp,” and more recently at the Butler Institute of American Art in an exhibition entitled “The Paintings Of John Mellencamp.” “The Paintings of John Mellencamp” traveled to the Museum of Art-DeLand, Florida and his art was showcased at the ACA Gallery in New York.
In yet another project, The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County is a musical with music and lyrics by John Mellencamp, a libretto by author Stephen King and production by T Bone Burnett as an extraordinary collaboration performed by an ensemble cast of 15 actors and a four-piece live band comprised of Mellencamp’s band members. The show is being further developed in London, though King and Mellencamp are no longer as actively involved.
As a consummate artist, Mellencamp has acted in films “Falling From Grace,” “After Image” and “Lone Star State of Mind.”
He continues his journey as the walking embodiment of heartland rock; passionate, plain-spoken, and a self-proclaimed rebel.
Starting Friday, February 17 at 10 a.m., tickets for the John Mellencamp concert will be available at the Fair Box Office, online at Ticketmaster.com and over the phone at 800-745-3000.
They are $89, $75 and $59 and include admission into the fair.
For more information, visit the fair’s web site at www.allentownfairpa.org.