John Mellencamp releases new album and tour

John Mellencamp is coming to Wolftrap July 3rd, to promote his new album.  Released Friday (April 28th) is John Mellencamp's 23rd studio set, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies. The collection, which prominently features tourmate Carlene Carter on five songs, includes her original composition "Damascus Road" -- as well as Mellencamp duetting with country star Martina McBride on the track, "Grandview," which was started back in the 1990's by Mellencamp's cousin, Bobby Clark, before Mellencamp finished the tune. The album kicks off with a cover of country icon Mickey Newbury's "Mobile Blue." The album also features Mellencamp providing music to the Woody Guthrie's lyrics to "My Soul's Got Wings."

Mellencamp upcoming tour kicks off on June 5th in Greenwood Village, Colorado at Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre and runs through September 3rd at Canfield, Ohio's Canfield Fair. Once again joining Mellencamp on tour will be Carlene Carter, along with the legendary Emmylou Harris, and folk-pop sister duo Lily & Madeleine. Jewel will substitute for Emmylou at the tour's two Oregon shows. Every online ticket comes with one physical CD of the Sad Clowns & Hillbillies collection.

  • John Mellencamp, whose last album, 2014's Plain Spoken, peaked at Number 18 on the Billboard 200 album charts, told us in this day and age, if the hitmakers don't come out of the gate hitting, they're as good as gone: [“When I made my first record -- I made four albums before I sold one. That’s called artist development and failure. Who is allowed that opportunity to develop today? Nobody. No record company is gonna put that type of time, money, (and) effort into an artist that sells no records. (They get) one, maybe, two shots -- that’s it. This new delivery system called the Internet has been mishandled so grossly by record companies that when the Internet came out, they were so fat from selling back catalogue that they just didn’t recognize it as a new delivery system, which is what it is.”]
  • We asked Mellencamp if he's among the musicians that believes that rock as an active musical and cultural movement died long ago: [“Oh absolutely. It’s been dead since the early-‘90s. Y’know, rock as an art form, I mean, there’s not been any artist since the early-‘90s that has made much of a global difference. Y’know, you have your occasional pop artists, y’know? And you’re always going to have that, but as far as rock being a meaningful form of communication -- other than old stuff; if you wanna listen to old stuff, it’s still meaningful, but you’re familiar with it, you know it. But, where’s the new Rolling Stones? Where’s the new Bob Dylan -- where’s the next generation of those people? And if they do exist online somewhere, they’re never going to have the exposure that these people had.”]
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    • In September, John Mellencamp spoke about his upcoming album with Carlene Carter, telling USA Today, "We wrote a couple of songs together, and she wrote some and I wrote some."
    • One of the songs features Mellencamp providing music to lyrics left behind by the legendary Woody Guthrie. Mellencamp said, "If Woody Guthrie were starting out now, no one would give him the time of day. But I've been very fortunate. I played last night to a sold-out house. So I can't complain. But I do."
    • He spoke about his deep affection for Carlene Carter: "If there is a spitting image of June (Carter) -- it's Carlene. She talks like her mom, has the same opinions as her mom. We got along immediately."
  • CHECK IT OUT: John Mellencamp's 2017 lyric video for "Easy Target":