A few weeks ago I was offered a VIP pass to Pettyfest, a night of rocking tribute to Tom Petty hosted by Jameson. The day of the event they delivered a little gift to my office.
By the time we made it to The Mohawk that night, Mr. Betty and I were ready for a fun night. They led us up to the upstairs VIP area where the Jameson was flowing freely and spirits were high. They offered me an interview with one of the night’s artists and I requested Doyle Bramhall II, living legend and guitar BFFs with Eric Clapton.
I grew up hearing tons of Tom Petty on the radio. But I didn’t realize just how many hits I knew until I heard them, one after another. Thanks, WZXL. Tom Petty is awesome, in case you forgot. Some highlights from the night: Norah Jones joined Adriel Denea for a sweet take on Wildflowers. Doyle accompanied old buddy Charlie Sexton for Mary Jane’s Last Dance, pleasing the Austin stoner crowd to no end.
Don’t Come Around Here No More has a soft spot in my heart because I loved the video so much as a kid. (Early MTV was the best!) So it was pretty rad to see Lukas Nelson and Ruby Amanfu cover it so well. That Ruby can wail!
Jakob Dylan looked and sounded great and the crowd went wild when he and Norah Jones sang Stop Dragging My Heart Around. The night moved quickly, with the artists casually jumping back on stage to join their friends in various songs. When they weren’t onstage, they were hanging out in the crowd watching the other acts. It gave the night a feeling of intimacy and blurred the division between artist and audience. We were all there for the same purpose. To celebrate Tom Petty.
So how was my interview with Doyle Bramhall II? I have to admit, I was a bit starstruck. I saw him play with Clapton in Philadelphia on his 2001 tour and he’s a true rack and roll god. But Doyle put me at ease. He was friendly, soft-spoken and yes, that head of hair is incredible. He talked about working on his next solo album, his first in over 12 years. His world travels and life experiences are informing the writing process. Older, and at a completely different place in his life now, I’ll be curious to see what tone this new album takes and how his larger-than-life decade of world tours will influence his blues.
Doyle ran into Tom Petty about a month before Pettyfest and asked what he should play. Petty laughed and said, “Well, what do you want to play? Play what you want.” And he did, indeed.