Greetings everyone! Welcome to this months edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. My Blog is different from many others you have probably read. They are not detailed reviews of events, or gossip about who whore what and who was with who. This is about my personal experiences, not only just at the event, but my history with the artist or subject. I write from many different perspectives. I was a child actor and movie fan, who happens to be an aspiring screenwriter. I also spent time working as an assistant in Hollywood for Talent Agency’s and Management companies. I’ve also been a life long music fan and have worked managing local and local bands.
This month’s blog is about the presentation of the 2012 John Steinbeck Award, to John Mellencamp and my four decades of going to John’s shows.
August 1, 1981
On August 1, 1981 an event occurred that changed television, the music industry and pop culture, as we know it. The birth of an all music video channel brought a new marketing tool to lure in Generation X. With the launch of MTV, it instantly created music stars. What is also did, was put artists who may have not been critically but not commercially know to the masses exposure.
My First Album Purchase “American Fool” – 1982
One of those artists, whom I was introduced to, went by the name of John Cougar. John’s sixth album “American Fool” was the first record I ever purchased. I loved not only the music put his lyrics and if attitude that I saw in his early videos for “Jack and Diane”, ‘Hurt So Good”, and Hand To Hold On To”.
As the 80’s moved on, John returned to his roots by name (John Mellencamp) and artistically through his music. I’ve always had a strong connection to artist who write, their own lyrics, and tell stories of underdogs fighting to survive and find their piece of the American dream. John’s music evolved to tell stories of social and economic problems that affected his home not just his area of Indiana but across the United Sates.
1988 Lonesome Jubilee Tour Meadowlands Arena
In 1988, family and I attended the John Mellencamp show in New Jersey at the Meadowlands Arena. Mellencamp, was one of the few modern artists both my parents and my sister and I listened to. The final song that night came from an artist that my sister and I use to cringe every time my parents would play. My sister thought that his voice sounded like a frog. However after hearing Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” preformed and listening to the lyrics, it opened me up to discovering one of the greatest songwriters of all time. So when I heard that John, was going to be in San Jose receiving the 2012 John Steinbeck Award, I knew I wanted to not only cover it, but also attend it.
2012 John Steinbeck Award – John Mellencamp: A Conversation and Special Performance at the California Theatre in San Jose on July 30, 2012
The John Steinbeck award, is given to artists who capture “the spirit of Steinbeck’s empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of the common man, in collaboration with the John Steinbeck Family Foundation, San Jose State University, and The National Steinbeck Center. The evening was broken down into three parts. The Award presentation. A conversation with John being interviewed by Robert Santelli (Executive Director, Grammy Museum). The evening would end by a live performance with Mellencamp and his 6-piece band.
John way humble when accepting the award. During the interview John played some of his classic including “Jack and Diane” acoustically in between questions he answered. The small and intimate California Theater, was the perfect setting for this type of performance. You really felt like you were in a living room at times. Mellencamp’s spoke of his past, musical influences, and his work with charities, like Farm Aid were discussed. The only controversial part of the evening was when John, light up a cigarette on stage during one of the segments.
John hit the stage with his 6 piece and played a short set of some of his classic hits. This marked the fourth decade I had seen Mr. Mellencamp perform. Mellencamp, still puts on a magnificent performance as he continues to be a voice for the underdog. Thank you to the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, for allowing me to photograph the event and for using one of my photos on their homepage. http://as.sjsu.edu/steinbeck/