Coming pop concerts: Felice Brothers and John Mellencamp
"All I want is to eat cherry licorice," the Felice Brothers sing on the lead single to their sixth album, Favorite Waitress. "I don't care if it sounds ridiculous." No, they don't care, and we don't either. That's because the quintet fronted by Ian and James Felice (brother Simone departed several albums ago) so thoroughly enjoy rollicking through the ramshackle Americana roots music they've specialized in for a decade. As Favorite Waitress moves on, however, it takes a darker, more expressionistic turn, as if Ian Felice isn't quite so sure all that sweet candy is going to get the job done after all. Thursday at Union Transfer, the bros will be joined by Texas songwriter Robert Ellis, a rising talent who impressed with his 2014 release The Lights From the Chemical Plant. He closed out a performance at the Ardmore Music Hall this past winter with Paul Simon and Hall & Oates covers.
- Dan DeLuca
Felice Brothers, with Robert Ellis, play at 8 p.m. Thursday at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. Tickets: $20. Information: 215-232-2100, utphilly.com.
Nearly 35 years after his first Top 20 single, 1980's "Ain't Even Done With the Night," Indiana native John Mellencamp - then known as John Cougar - has proven himself one of rock's most durable and respected musicians. And he's still one of the busiest.
Next week, Mellencamp, 62, releases a rather unusual live album: a recording from one of only two shows he performed in 2003 in support of his acclaimed blues/folk homage, Trouble No More. This fall, his first studio album in four years, Plain Spoken, comes out. Right around the same time, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County - a 15-years-in-the-making Southern gothic musical Mellencamp created with Stephen King and T Bone Burnett - goes on the road with an ensemble cast of 15 actors and a four-piece band. (It's slated for a stop in Philly in November.)
In the meantime, Mellencamp - who declared a few years back that he was "done being a rock star" - brings his populist brand of heartland rock on the road for a monthlong, nine-city tour that includes a stop in Atlantic City. The shows have been a sort of greatest-hits retrospective, but with Mellencamp reworking songs to his own liking (for example, a solo acoustic version of mega-hit "Jack & Diane"). Backed by a top-flight band that includes violinist Miriam Sturm, accordionist/keyboard player Troye Kinnett, and drummer Dane Clark, Mellencamp will dish out plenty of beloved "little ditties," including "Pink Houses," "Cherry Bomb," and "Check It Out." So, check it out.
- Nicole Pensiero
John Mellencamp performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Borgata Event Center, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City. Tickets: $75, $125, $155, $175. Information: 609-317-1000, www.myborgata.com.