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Author Topic: Mike Wanchic/Carlene Carter Springfield Interview  (Read 6269 times)
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« on: April 06, 2016, 11:00:39 pm »

John Mellencamp brings "Plain Spoken" tour to Sangamon Auditorium on Sunday
Elaine Spencer
Apr 6, 2016

When John Mellencamp brings his "Plain Spoken" tour to Sangamon Auditorium Sunday night with guest artist Carlene Carter, the sold-out show will reflect more than 40 years of both artists stubbornly being themselves in the face of music industry conventions.

Decades after Mellencamp, 64, hit the charts with "Hurts So Good," "Jack and Diane, "Pink Houses" and other hits, he and his band aren't letting either nostalgia or novelty dictate what they perform.

"This is the most well-received tour we've ever had," said Mike Wanchic, Mellencamp's guitarist and backup vocalist, who's worked with him since 1976.

"Being able to go out and take the risk of playing a lot of material that is not popular hits, and having people say 'Thank you for playing something other than your hits'" has been a pleasant surprise, Wanchic said in a phone interview Friday from Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first stop on the current tour.

"There will be some surprises in his set," added Carter, who will open the show. "John's show is rocking as hell and covers a lot of ground."

The 60-year-old daughter of June Carter Cash and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash welcomes the opportunity to perform with an artist that her family held in high esteem.

"My stepdad had great respect for John Mellencamp and my mom just adored him," Carter said in a phone interview Monday from Missouri, the third stop on the tour. "John is a songsmith, a wordsmith, who knows how to make it happen."

This tour, which continues through April 23, extends to smaller communities the 80-city tour Mellencamp undertook last year to promote "Plain Spoken," his 22nd album.

Wanchic said cities like Springfield are "the perfect example of the heart and core of our audience. Where do we live? Bloomington, Indiana. We don't live in New York or L.A. This is where we thrive (and) where our success was born. It's a way to honor that and reach the people who have supported us for all these decades."

Not only is central Illinois close to home for Mellencamp, Wanchic said, it was also the site of a benchmark event in his career the first Farm Aid concert in 1985. Playing sites such as Memorial Stadium in Champaign for the first time was as exciting to them as playing New York, London or Tokyo, he added. "It was one of those moments when we knew we had made it."

Their professional relationship and friendship has lasted as long as it has, Wanchic said, because of "the musical trust and personal trust" they have formed. "I think a lot of it is just our common brotherhood, respect for each other musically, and that we started this together, from the initial demos," Wanchic said.

Prior to launching the "Plain Spoken" tour, Mellencamp invited Carter to record a song for the film "Ithaca," directed by his then-girlfriend Meg Ryan and released in the fall of 2015. When Carter came to Mellencamp's Indiana recording studio, she recalled, "John said to me 'Are you excited about the tour?' I said 'What tour?' And he said 'You're opening for me.'"

Any doubts that rock star Mellencamp's fans would embrace a "blueblooded country girl" were quickly dispelled.

"They are so warm to me," Carter said. "I feel blessed I've probably made some new fans that may not have heard of me before."

From the start of her career as a teenager, Cash advised her to "be yourself" and not worry about fitting into the confines of either the country or rock genre. "That's been great (advice) for me," she said. "I've done all kinds of crazy stuff and it's been awesome."

Carter and Mellencamp have also worked together on the musical "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," co-written by Mellencamp and horror novelist Stephen King, and plan to release an album of their duets late this year or early next year.

In 2014 Carter released "Carter Girl," a tribute to her musical heritage. "I had always wanted to do this (album) but never felt it was the right time," she said. When her mother, her aunts Anita and Helen Carter, and her grandmother Maybelle Carter were still alive, "I felt it wasn't my place to do it," but now that the emotions of their passing have subsided (her mother and stepfather died in 2003), she felt more comfortable recording their music.

Mellencamp has long been regarded as "The Voice of the Heartland", expressing the doubts and desires of middle America. At Mellencamp's induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, his friend Billy Joel said, "Stay ornery, stay mean. People need to hear a voice like yours... to echo the discontent that's out there in the heartland."

Through songs from the "Plain Spoken" album such as "Troubled Man", "Sometimes There's God," "Freedom of Speech," and "Lawless Times", Wanchic believes he continues to channel that discontent into a positive channel.

"It's expressive of the human condition," Wanchic said. "That's what John is wonderful at. It includes politics and it includes music. He's gotten better at it and so have I. This is an opportunity for people to come and sit down and witness something that is at its apex."


John Mellencamp with Carlene Carter
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Sangamon Auditorium,
For more information, call 206-6160
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2016, 12:25:38 pm »

"I feel blessed I've probably made some new fans that may not have heard of me before."
Yes Carlene, that's EXACTLY what happened to me! I remember last year was my first time seeing Mellencamp and she opened for him and I admit that at first I totally ignored her!I was too excited to see John. But I'm really happy that I took the time to discover her music later on- I'm kind of obsessed now! And I think that she fits really well with Mellencamp's music and this tour. They go together so well and I'm more than excited to hear this new album from them! My favorite singer, John Mellencamp, and my favorite female singer, Carlene Carter together!? This sounds AWESOME. I will totally listen to her songs so much more closely now and I won't miss her act this time. I must indulge myself in the whole Plain Spoken Tour! This is going to be super great!

I'm 19 years old and proud to be a hardcore John Mellencamp fan. - Brianna Hojnacki
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