John Mellencamp kicks off the 2007 NFL season 

(Colts vs. Saints)
RCA Dome
Thursday, Sept. 6, 8:30 p.m., all-ages

Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson, Hinder
Monument Circle
Thursday, Sept. 6, 5-7:30 p.m., free, all-ages

In years past, the opening day of the football season brought fresh hope to Indianapolis Colts fans — yet another clean slate — with most of us looking forward to a season of optimism and anticipation. This year is no different, save a few exceptions. With last season’s Super Bowl win, expectations are higher and civic pride is as strong as it’s ever been. That Super Bowl trophy is also bringing other perks with it.

Whereas in years past we’d be lucky to get Sandi Patti singing the National Anthem before the game, this year Indianapolis gets a nationally televised free concert on Monument Circle featuring Kelly Clarkson, Hinder and Faith Hill and, later on in the Dome, a set by local hero John Mellencamp before the opening kick-off.

Mellencamp and his band are currently holed up in his Belmont Mall recording studio with super-producer T-Bone Burnett working on his 22nd album. After the kick-off gig, the band will head to Randall’s Island in New York City to perform at this year’s Farm Aid and will head out on the road later this fall for a handful of dates, including one in Indy at Concesco Fieldhouse.

Considering the ever-present “Our Country” song that scored the Chevy Trucks commercials, which played at least 100 times during every single televised football game of the 2006 season, John Mellencamp is an easy and wise choice for the kick-off. The fact he’s playing what may be his last gig in the RCA Dome will help make this game against New Orleans the biggest display of Hoosier pride since the first settlers stumbled upon the Wabash. For one shining day, we’ll display our two biggest exports that weren’t born on a race track. It will be good day to be a Hoosier.

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