Rocker John Mellencamp to headline July 1 show at Tanglewood

LENOX — Rock star John Mellencamp will make his Tanglewood debut this summer on a just-announced July 1 Popular Artists program along with singer-songwriters Emmylou Harris and Carlene Carter.

Also added to the series is a "Four Voices" showcase for Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Indigo Girls singers Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. They will perform on Saturday, June 17, the first concert of the 11-week season at the Boston Symphony's summer home.

The new bookings unveiled on Thursday follow previously scheduled shows by singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant on July 2, humorist-author David Sedaris on Aug. 20 and the multi-genre crossover performers The Avett Brothers on Sept. 1.

Anticipated performances by James Taylor on July 3 and 4 have yet to be announced, though the dates are being held in reserve.

Mellencamp, 65, won a Grammy award in 1983 and has been nominated for 12 others. The singer-songwriter was 14 when he formed his first band, Crepe Soul.

In 1976, he began performing professionally as Johnny Cougar and John Cougar. From 1983-1990, he was billed as John Cougar Mellencamp, and since then as John Mellencamp, known for a style branded as heartland rock with traditional instrumentation.

His list of top-10 singles in the 1980s includes "Hurts So Good," "Jack & Diane," "Crumblin' Down," "Pink Houses," "Lonely Ol' Night," "Small Town," "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.," "Paper in Fire," and "Cherry Bomb."

Mellencamp's 22nd studio album, "Plain Spoken," was released in 2014 and garnered praise from rock critics. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2008, Mellencamp's musical influences include Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, James Brown and the Rolling Stones, he stated in a 1986 published interview.

He is also a founding member of Farm Aid, the organization formed in 1985 which has raised a reported $50 million to preserve and promote family farms.

According to Rolling Stone contributor Anthony DeCurtis, "Mellencamp has created an important body of work that has earned him both critical regard and an enormous audience. His songs document the joys and struggles of ordinary people seeking to make their way, and he has consistently brought the fresh air of common experience to the typically glamour-addled world of popular music."

Joining him on stage at Tanglewood will be Emmylou Harris, the folk and country rock singer who previously performed there in 1977 and 1978. For country singer Carlene Carter, it will be her first performance at the venue.

The Sept. 1 "Four Voices" show emerged from a friendship among Baez, Carpenter, Ray and Saliers. They first performed together at a 1991 benefit, and then at an Earth Day celebration in Boston in 1992, as well as the Newport Folk Festival.

They reconnected last year ago at a 75th birthday celebration for Baez at Manhattan's Beacon Theatre, which laid the groundwork for the Four Voices Tour this summer.

Baez, who first performed at Tanglewood in 1979 and returned in 2013 with the Indigo Girls, gained fame in the early 1960s as a leading folk song writer and performer. She introduced Bob Dylan to audiences in 1963 and earned her social activism stripes by marching with Dr. Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement.

She has received the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year.

Carpenter, 58, made her Tanglewood debut in 1995, has recorded 14 albums and won five Grammys.

Her most recent album, released last year, was "The Things That We Are Made Of." Among its glowing reviews, the Huffington Post wrote: "Carpenter is now at the height of her musical career, painting a compelling, relevant piece of art tinged with mixed feelings of grief and joy, all without preaching or darkening our minds with sadness."

During the last several years, she has performed selections from her first orchestral album, "Songs From The Movie," with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra, among others. Carpenter has also appeared locally at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield and at last fall's FreshGrass Festival at Mass MoCA in North Adams.

Indigo Girls singers Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have performed together for 20 years and have sold nearly 15 million records. Their 16th studio album, "One Lost Day," was released in 2015.

Tickets for the "Four Voices" performance on Saturday, June 17, at 7:30 and the Mellencamp/Harris/Carter show on Saturday, July 1, at 7, go on sale Friday, Feb. 24 at or 1-888-266-1200.

Reach correspondent Clarence Fanto at or 413-637-2551.


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