Joint effort lured Dylan, Nelson, Mellencamp

August 14, 2009 

There are oh-so-many storylines heading into Friday night's Bob Dylan/John Mellencamp/Willie Nelson concert at Chukchansi Park.

First, there's the talent — three icons of folk, rock and country, respectively.

Then there's what it took to get them here — a joint effort from the city of Fresno, the SMG team at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center and the Fresno Grizzlies.

There's also the venue. The more-talked-about-than-used concert venue turn for Chukchansi Park.

Plus, it's an interesting tour idea, circling the country playing at minor league baseball parks and offering family-friendly ticket deals.

The tour

Since 2004, Dylan has made summer concerts in minor league baseball parks a tradition.

This year, he added Nelson and Mellencamp to the tour, making just the second time in 24 years the trio has shared a stage.

This year's tour started on July 2 and wraps up Saturday in Stockton, making Fresno its second-to-last stop.

An additional draw of the stadium tour is that every adult ticket purchased also allows for free entry for a child younger than 14.

Booking the show

Bringing the concert to Fresno wasn't as easy as you might think.

"It was really a group effort to get this concert here," says Claudia Arguelles, sales and marketing director for the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center. "All three of us are working together — the city, SMG and the Grizzlies."

According to Arguelles, the city recruited SMG, the venue management group that oversees the convention center, to help book more concerts at Chukchansi Park. When the convention center team heard about Dylan's ballpark tour, they used their ties with promoter Jam Productions (which was booking the tour) to get the show routed to Chukchansi Park.

"It's part of the city's effort to revitalize downtown," Arguelles says. "Creating more family-friendly events."

The concert is not a part of the 2006 deal the Grizzlies struck with Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino to bring concerts to the downtown stadium. That brought 2006 concerts with Toby Keith and Ana Gabriel and a 2007 date with Reba McEntire, but nothing since.

If things go well, this concert could lead to more SMG-booked concerts at the ballpark.

"We'd like to do more. The city would like to do more. We're pooling all our resources together to make the venue attractive to promoters on a lot of different levels," Arguelles says. "Hopefully this show will do well and it will the first of many."


Bob Dylan

Best known for: Songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'," which became calling cards for civil rights and anti-war protesters in the 1960s.
Previously in Fresno: Dylan last played in Fresno at Save Mart Center in October 2004.
Recently: "Together Through Life," Dylan's 33rd studio album, was released in April and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart.

Willie Nelson

Best known for: Being an outlaw country singer who is one of the most prolific of his generation. Nelson has released 77 albums since 1962. He's also had a lucrative career singing standards with the album "Stardust."
Previously in Fresno: Nelson's last Fresno performance was at the Warnors Theatre in 2002.
Recently: Wilson is prepping for the release of "American Classic," another trip into the American songbook. The album will be released Aug. 25 on iconic jazz label Blue Note Records and feature guest appearances from Norah Jones and Diana Krall.

John Mellencamp

Best known for: His 1982 album "American Fool," which featured the hit singles "Jack & Diane" and "Hurts So Good."
Previously in Fresno: Mellencamp hasn't performed in Fresno since the early 1980s, but he did film a music video in Hanford in 2004.
Recently: Mellencamp released his latest album, "Life, Death, Love and Freedom" in July 2008. It features the single "Troubled Land."

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