You know how sometimes you just really want a good pizza? Then you get a good pizza and you bite into it and it is the greatest thing that you have ever tasted? Then you eat another slice and another slice and it is completely amazing pizza, the best meal ever? Then you eat one slice too many? Then you sit back and say "I ate too much pizza"? Then five minutes later the thought of eating more pizza makes you gag?
That's a little bit how I feel about Tom Petty right now.
I still love pizza and I know I'll be devouring it again in the future and I still love the music of Tom Petty and I know I'll be devouring that in the future. Maybe even tomorrow. But, right now, if I digest anymore Tom Petty...OK this is crazy and too fake to be real, but I swear this is real, Don't Back Down just came on the radio. As I was typing that last sentence I was thinking, "Watch, the radio is now going to play a Tom Petty song." And they did! Man oh man, why does life have to be so perfectly movie-like all of the time?...You know what? I don't mind hearing this song right now at all. I guess the radio proved my whole scenario false. Well, never mind then. You can just ignore that whole pizza metaphor...come to think of it, I could go for a slice right now, too bad the best pizza place in town closed.
Anyway, the point is that this whole past week has been about the music of Tom Petty. We had a few full band practices and a lot of playing and singing the songs around the house. Last night's Don't Do Me Like That, A Tribute To Tom Petty at the Iron Horse was a marathon of a show. It started at 7:00 and I'm not even sure what time it ended. I think it was around 11:30. That's four and half hours in a no-standing-room and terribly hot room. That's three full length movies worth of live music, most of it Tom Petty songs.
I had a wonderful time being swaddled in the camaraderie of the music community. My only gripe was that there was not a single place to sit down (which is awesome because it meant that a lot of people came out to the show). It's not possible for me to stand for that long of a time so I had to often retreat to the green room and sit down there. Which meant I had to miss several of the performances. If I had a nice chair upstairs, I would have immersed myself in the show. Instead I went up and down and heard a few of the songs as just bass and drums through the club's floor boards.
Everything that I saw and heard was just really great. Not a stinker in the bunch.
By the time the Rub Wrongways Caravan took the stage at the end of the night, the crowd had thinned out considerably. The half that stayed were the die-hards, the tough kids, the endurance masters, the petty fans, the music fans, the I-don't-have-to-work-in-the-morning gang, the late night revelers, the too drunk to stand up crowd, the persistent, the getting-our-money's-worth, the troopers. I don't blame anyone for leaving. It almost seemed insane to stay in that sauna for that long. But those that did used their insanity to fill the room with great spirit and optimism.
Our set flew by. It wasn't close to being as tight and musical as it was in our quiet comfortable practice space, but I think we made up for that by shear will of energy and rock-and-roll. Guitars came unplugged, guitars fell out of tune, feedback squealed but I loved every second of it. For the final song, we had chosen Refugee. Brian was adamant about it when he saw that nobody was playing that song.
When I listened to it in preparation for the show, the first thing I realized is that Ken Maiuri had to play the organ and F. Alex Johnson had to play the guitar. Those parts just seemed custom made for those two players. Then we had to work out who would sing the song. It's really high. It's not an easy song to sing. It's high and powerful. I sent a message to a chosen group of singers and finally we decided that Ray Mason, Scott Lawson, and Rick Murnane would each take a verse. We'd also just invite anyone else who wanted to come up on stage. I don't know how many people were up there but when I turned around the stage was full of friends.
(photos by L.A. Pomeroy)