For Tom Petty, the simplicity of rock and roll was its very sanctity. It was the most effective way for this golden haired, snaggle toothed kid from Gainesville to evoke the purest feelings in life: the giddiness of being in love, the pedal-down buzz of speeding down the highway, the wetness of Louisiana rain through the shoes. He wrote his lyrics to be heard not read. He composed his chords to be felt rather than savored. He had a purity of spirit and down-home honesty that made you feel like he was just a handshake away from becoming your best friend.
Not surprisingly, Petty’s songs opened a lot of hearts, across generations and even continents. To date, he has sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling pop musicians of all time. That is why, so many of us felt a sucker punch to the heart when he died.
Warren Zane, one of Petty’s biographers, wrote: “On the music side, the results were pretty straightforward: in a culture of argument and friendships lost because you couldn’t see eye to eye on what acts meant the most, Petty was the guy most everybody agreed on.”
At a time when the political environment has become so toxic, there is something almost reverential about celebrating the things that we do share. That makes Tom Petty’s music – and its ability to bring so many diverse people together – feel even more timely and essential than ever.
Over one evening of music selected from virtually every corner of Petty’s songbook, you will see and hear the deep talent and diversity of Washington-based musicians whose lives were touched by this quintessentially American musician. They include David Kitchen, Cal Everett, Todd Wright, Sean Chyun, Hayley Fahey, Heather Aubrey Lloyd, Jonathan Sloane, Holly Montgomery, Tommy Gann, Dan Hovey, Jack O’Dell, Cathy Valdiviez Baumbusch, Desson Thomson, Jon Combs, Ariel Francis, El Torro Gamble, Mark Williams, Ian Burke and Wes Lanich.
Their message will be simple: Tom Petty’s music mattered then, it matters now, and it will help carry us forward into the great wide open of the American future.
I’m very proud to announce that on September 17th I will be releasing a five song EP, Go Back Out.
It’s an upbeat Indie Roots Rock album of catchy tunes with an organic vibe. I wrote or co-wrote, with the help of friends Harry Blevins and Dulcie Taylor, all of the material here.
Although I started making these recordings years earlier, the bulk of it was completed between mid-2016 and the spring of this year. Working on this project really gave me a much needed focus after the passing of my son Hank and this collection is dedicated to his memory.
All the tunes on Go Back Out have been in my repertoire for a long while. They have also been recorded before but I believe these versions breathe new life into them. Notably this record marks the first time I have played all the guitar parts myself. Even though I’ve had the good fortune of being able to perform alongside of some amazing guitarists in the area, I felt I needed to step out a little.
I did have a lot of help though. First and foremost I need to thank the incredibly swinging rhythm section of drummer Jack O’Dell and bassist Johnny Combs. Along with keyboard ace Ariel Francis, I’ve worked with these guys for ages and as always they turn in stellar performances. The other fine musicians on the album, Chris Watling on tenor and baritone saxes and horn arrangements, Vince McCool on trumpet, Bruce Swaim on tenor sax, Cathy Valdiviez Baumbusch on backing vocals and Rand Gardner on percussion all brought their expertise and creativity to the sessions and for that I am grateful to no end.
In addition to the players I have to give huge credit to the guys who made the sound all come together. Mixer/Engineer Mike Harvey, Engineer Steve Steckler and Mastering Engineer Sam Rees did a remarkable job of realizing the songs and also provided much needed guidance in making production choices.
Local artist Nick Zimbro created the cool cover art which I found purely by accident in my own neighborhood! Thanks Nick!
I’m so glad to be able to celebrate the release of my new EP at JV’s on Sunday Sept. 17 at 8:30PM and I hope you will come and join my band, Jack, Johnny, Ariel and superb guitarist Dan Hovey for a night of my originals and fun covers. Special guests including Vince McCool will also be sitting in. CD’s will be available for purchase at the show and it will also available as a digital download.