Leave it to the avowed contrarian to make his Steinbeck event his own. Classic rocker and Farm Aid co-founder John Mellencamp would not settle for a mere conversation or just another concert, so he developed a hybrid for his July 30 appearance at the California Theatre in San José. One part conversation (with Bob Santelli of the Grammy Museum) and one part concert (with full-band accompaniment), Mellencamp brought down the house for his sold-out benefit for the Steinbeck Center. After receiving the Award from Dr. Paul Douglass, Mellencamp said of Steinbeck, "His remarkable ability to give voice to the common man and to people on society's margins continues to inspire me. I'm honored to be given an award in his name."