Tom Petty and Mudcrutch
Santa Ana, California
June 28, 2016
The story of Mudcrutch might have been but a footnote in the legend of Tom Petty: His original group, Mudcrutch got Petty and his band mates off the Florida bar circuit in the early í70s and into a Los Angeles recording studio where their record deal died a little-noticed death before band ever finished its debut album.
Lead singer and chief songwriter Petty, guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboard player Benmont Tench went on to form the Heartbreakers and years later claim a well-deserved spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And Mudcrutch ñ which also included guitarist Tom Leadon and drummer Randall Marsh ñ faded from memory until 2008 when Petty got the band back together to finally finish what theyíd started, a self-titled album followed by a handful of gigs.
A second album, ìMudcrutch 2,î landed in May, and this time the bandís first national tour followed with a sold-out show at the Observatory in Santa Ana on Tuesday that provided a rare opportunity to see Petty in a club that holds maybe 1,000 instead of the arenas and amphitheaters he typically plays.
But fans also got a fascinating glimpse at what might have been ñ the Alternate History of Tom Petty, if you will ñ thanks to a set that included 19 songs over two hours, all of them Mudcrutch originals but for a handful of covers, and all of them fine examples of Petty & Co.ís effortless skill at blending their rock, folk and country influences into music that can stand proudly on its own.
The night opened with the bandís take on ìShady Grove,î an Appalachian folk standard, with Petty, Leadon and touring musician Herb Pedersen trading off on the verses. Itís odd to see Petty on bass, but thatís how it was 45 years ago and so it is today.
ìWe started out as an old roadhouse bar band back in 1970,î Petty offered a song or so later by way of introducing ìSix Days on the Road,î a hit for country singer Dave Dudley that certainly came to the attention of Mudcrutch through the Flying Burrito Brothersí rendition.
And the spirit of the Burritos, Gram Parsons, and the Byrds ñ a cover of the latter bandís ìLover of the Bayouî was one standout ñ was easy to spot throughout the set. Add the Eagles ñ Tom Leadonís brother Bernie was a founding member ñ and itís easy to see how Mudcrutch might have fit into the early í70s rise of rock with country and roots influences proudly worn on the sleeves of its denim shirts and Nudie suits.
Highlights early in the set included ìTrailer,î an outtake from Petty and the Heartbreakerís 1985 album ìSouthern Accents,î and the first single from the new Mudcrutch album, ìThis Is A Good Street,î a rollicking piano-fueled number sung by Tench, and the Byrds cover, which featured Leadon and Campbell trading off guitar licks.
While Petty wrote most of the songs on the two albums, each member of the band has at least one or two of his own, and each sings, too. Drummer Marshís ìBeautiful Worldî felt like it might have been a í70s AM radio hit. Campbellís ìVictim of Circumstanceî offered the rare chance to see the guitarist sing lead vocals.
The sense that Mudcrutch is a band felt genuine, as did Pettyís clear joy at playing with Marsh and Leadon again. ìItís a real treat to play with (Leadon) again,î he said at one point. ìHe was 14, I was 16, that was 1966. We had a lot of big life experiences on the road. Itís not that we had never seen marijuana before, weíd never seen that much.î
ìDreams of Flyingî might have been my favorite song of the night ñ itís the one that was stuck on repeat in my head the next morning ñ though the swampy rock of ìThe Wrong Thing To Doî and the hard-edged ìBootleg Flyer,î the pair that wrapped up the set, were equally riveting.
For the encore, Mudcrutch really earned its í70s-born stripes, with ìCrystal Riverî stretched out into a swirling, atmospheric jam that at 15 minutes closed the night on a psychedelic high. Sometimes it takes time to find your place in the world. Mudcrutch owns its spot now.
Opening the night was the Los Angeles-based band the Shelters, whose blend of fuzzed-out guitars and dual lead vocals legitimately won over a crowd that didnít know them when the set started. Highlights included ìRebel Heart,î the title track from their Petty-produced debut album, ìFortune Teller,î and ìThe Ghost is Gone.î Keep an eye out for these guys, theyíre worth the price of a ticket on their own.
- Shady Grove
- Orphan of the Storm
- Six Days on the Road
- Scare Easy
- Benmont’s introduction
- This Is A Good Street
- Lover of the Bayou
- Band introductions
- Beautiful World
- Dreams of Flying
- Save Your Water
- Hungry No More
- I Forgive It All
- Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
- Welcome to Hell
- Victim of Circumstance
- The Wrong Thing to Do
- Bootleg Flyer
- Crystal River
Tom Petty bass and vocals
Mike Campbell guitar and vocals
Benmont Tench keyboards and vocals
Tom Leadon guitar and vocals
Herb Pederson banjo and guitar
Randall Marsh drums and vocals
Sony ecm MS957 (mid-side stereo microphone) > Sony pcm M10 @ 24-96
about 25 feet from stage standing slightly off to the right
iZotope RX4 advanced/Har-Bal 3.0 (prep) > Adobe Audition 3.0 (tracking) > AudioGate Aqua (16-44) > TLH (flac 8)
Song information embedded with Stamp ID3 tag editor
[Above article courtesy of Peter Larson Staff Writer for the OC Register]
[Photos used for jewel box covers courtesy of Bill Alkofer staff photographer for the OC Register]
For historical reference only and not intended for resale or any commercial use.
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