A mel­lowed Mel­len­camp

Rocker, now 65, fa­vors the fa­mil­iar, even on his lat­est tour

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - MUSIC - By Melinda New­man

At 65, John Mel­len­camp no longer chases drama.

“I have found that life is a big enough ad­ven­ture,” he says, call­ing from his 86-acre prop­erty in Bloom­ing­ton, Ind. “Young kids go to the movies to be scared. If we were to­gether, I’d say to you, ‘Have you seen this mole on my arm?’ That’s scary enough. I don’t need to see ‘Sui­cide Squad.’ ”

Age has a way of tam­ing even the most re­bel­lious spir­its, and while Mel­len­camp re­mains a crusty char­ac­ter full of blunt procla­ma­tions and salty language, these days the self-pro­fessed home­body takes in­creas­ing com­fort in the fa­mil­iar. That’s why he asked his friend, Car­lene Carter, to join him on his new al­bum, “Sad Clowns & Hill­bil­lies.” Mel­len­camp and Carter, along with Em­my­lou Har­ris, will per­form June 25 at Mizner Park Am­phithe­ater in Boca Ra­ton.

While “Sad Clowns & Hill­bil­lies” is not an of­fi­cial duets al­bum, Carter earns her co-billing — the al­bum is cred­ited as “John Mel­len­camp fea­tur­ing Car­lene Carter” — by pen­ning two of the songs and singing and play­ing on 10 of the 13 tracks. It is Mel­len­camp’s sec­ond set for Repub­lic Records, a la­bel bet­ter known for pro­mot­ing such pop stars as the Weeknd and Ari­ana Grande than vet­eran rock­ers.

Yet grow­ing up, Repub­lic chief ex­ec­u­tive and chair­man Monte Lip­man so adored Mel­len­camp’s mu­sic and anti-au­thor­i­tar­ian at­ti­tude that he signed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in­ductee to a life­time record­ing con­tract in 2014. This, de­spite know­ing that Mel­len­camp could be a tough cus­tomer.

“Very first time I met John, he said to me, ‘Ap­par­ently, you heard I threw a chair at a par­tic­u­lar record ex­ec­u­tive, but I’m here to


John Mel­len­camp will per­form Sun­day at Mizner Park Am­phithe­ater in Boca Ra­ton, part of his first head­lin­ing tour in years.

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