On Thursday, July 15th we had the privilege to spend part of an afternoon with singer John Mellencamp during his tour stop in Windsor, Canada.
John shot two public service announcements for 1Matters and conducted a half hour interview for Toledo Streets. The interview will be made available to all the street papers nationwide through the National Association of Street Newspapers and the Street News Service.
It was a very small crew, two shooters, a grip, and my wife. We shot in the spare guest bedroom of his suite. John gave us about 40 minutes and we accomplished everything we planned, and more.
Dave Yonke with the Toledo Blade was invited by John’s publicist, Bob Merlis to cover the “making of.”
I will write more of the full experience later, but I wanted to put down some quick impressions.
- He just cares, plain and simple. Always has, always will. Since his first band at age 14, his entire career he has been standing up for justice for all. Look at today. What else explains why John Mellencamp took time to help a group of nobodies (compared to United Way, Habitat, or <name a national group here>), who happen to simply love, help, care, and protect a group of people who many consider ”nobodies.” 1Matters!
- John is rigorously honest. During the interview, he called himself a hypocrite just because his view has changed on authority since he wrote about it when he was 20. Hey, who hasn’t changed? We all change our view on things as we get more information, especially the wisdom provided by age. Later at the show he said “I don’t do encores, they are fake and just too pretentious.”
- John is funny. ”I wish young John would have had more respect and concern for old John. Some of the notes in some of the songs young John wrote are very hard for old John to hit.”
John is all about family. You don’t just see it. You feel it. Everywhere. From his beaming with pride talking about his sons to the team around him. Guitarist Mike Wanchic has been with John 35 years. Road Manager Harry Sandler has been with John for 20 years. In a testament to family, Harry’s daughter, Emilie, is on this tour and was the first person greeting us. In fact Harry came out his two-year retirement and the start of his photography passion just to do this tour with John.
In fact, the entire Team Mellencamp is a team of just damn great people.
Nothing gets to an artist until it has been thoroughly researched and vetted by his team.
Gratitude goes to his personal manager, Randy Hoffman who we met oh-so-briefly in 2007. He is the one we contacted two months ago about the idea and who first thought this venture might be worth looking at so he passed it on to John’s publicist, Bob Merlis who called us less than an hour after we sent our email to Randy and told us John had been very touched by his experience at Tent City and talked about it often.
Bob Merlis gets special recognition here. He is where the kind heart of Team Mellencamp started for us. “Bow-Tie Bob” as I came to call him, is a record industry veteran after 30 years at Warner Bros., a blues expert and fan, and someone who just plain gives a rip about all people too. Thank you Bob!
Lastly, John’s internet guru Tony Buechler has been a huge resource and help all along.
Having been a comedian so many years I recognize the contribution the team around an artist makes. And I have found the artist’s team reflects the values of the artist. Our request was passed on to John because our efforts are part of his values.
These teams around the artist never want any recognition as it detracts from their artist. But in this case they are such an important part of the family feeling we experienced from beginning and through out that it was something critical to this story.
They made us feel, well, at home. 1Matters.
But away from all of this, here is the bottom line:
HUD’s recent report and strategic plan, “Opening Doors” reported on the average night 640,000 are unhoused, without domestic autonomy in shelters and on the streets.
Next month every single one of those 640,000 will know they all are 1 who matters to those who care to matter.
Next month John will be talking to each and every 1 of them directly in the nation’s street papers.
1Matters Tent City Meeting
The next Tent City meeting is this Wednesday the 21st @ 7:00 pm at Red Cross HQ, 3100 W. Central. If you have a desire to help build something that matters, join us!