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For it’s One… Two… Three Legendary Performers at the Old Ballpark

Observer Scene | Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Think of the greatest ways to enjoy an All-American summer – baseball, cookouts, rock ‘n’ roll, fireworks. They all ooze with the glory of summer that Americans celebrate every year.

This July 4, all the greatest summer joys will converge for one historic night when rock legends Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Indiana’s own John Mellencamp perform at Coveleski Stadium in South Bend. For students who will be on campus this summer, or those willing to travel for good music, the performance will undoubtedly provide a glimpse at some of America’s greatest musicians.

The unprecedented show, produced by Jam Productions, Pacific Coast Concerts and the South Bend Silverhawks, is part of The Bob Dylan Show, a 22-city tour of minor league baseball stadiums. Since the summer of 2004, Dylan has performed to over half a million fans at numerous minor league ballparks across the country. The legendary roots rock performer has performed more than a hundred concerts a year since the early 1990’s. Following the successful release of his last album, “Modern Times,” Dylan followed up with his latest studio effort, “Together Through Life,” which was released yesterday.

In addition to being a stop on The Bob Dylan Show’s national tour, because the performance in South Bend is scheduled for Independence Day, it will be Willie Nelson’s 36th Annual 4th of July Picnic. Nelson, one of the world’s most prolific recording artists, has been busy as of late. In the past five years, he has released over twelve albums, written numerous books, appeared in several feature films, and still found time to tour. Nelson’s July 4th performance with Dylan will mark the second time the duo has appeared together at Coveleski. In 2004, the two performed to sold-out crowds at the Cove.

The concert roster is rounded off by Indiana native John Mellencamp. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer’s most recent album was released in 2008 and was titled “Life Death Love and Freedom.” It was regarded by Rolling Stone magazine as “one of the most compelling albums of Mellencamp’s career,” and was also among the top five albums of the year. Mellencamp previously performed with both Dylan and Nelson in 1985 for the first Farm Aid benefit concert.

The tour has received critical acclaim from numerous sources, including The Boston Globe, which recognized Dylan’s show as one of “the most relaxed, enjoyable shows of the year.”

Peter Kernan of Pacific Coast Concerts enthusiastically boasted that the show will “truly be the biggest concert South Bend has ever seen, both in terms of attendance and revenue.” Kernan, a Notre Dame alumnus, has been involved in some of the most prolific shows in South Bend over the years and expects a sellout on the night of the Fourth.

If the music and the setting aren’t enough of an American celebration, Coveleski Stadium has one final offer to sweeten the deal. A professional fireworks display will illuminate the summer sky immediately after the concert to end the unrivaled Fourth of July bash. The festivities will surely be remembered as not just a unique Fourth of July celebration, but also one of the most prolific events ever in South Bend.

If you’re looking for a unique Independence Day experience, and you’re willing to spend a few bucks, The Bob Dylan Show and Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic will be a display of American pride and culture that will likely never be reproduced.

Tickets go on sale this Saturday, May 2. They can be purchased at the Coveleski Stadium Ticket Office, or through Ticketmaster. All tickets are $68.50 for adults. Children 14 and under get in free and seating is general admission. The Cove’s gates open at 5:00 p.m. and the show begins at 5:30 with fireworks to follow.