Friday, June 10, 2016

Mudcrutch at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Tom Petty (left) & guest Roger McGuinn
In its first incarnation, born in 1970, Mudcrutch was a southern and country rock band that served as the house band at a popular topless club in Gainesville, Florida. In 1974, Mudcrutch re-located to Los Angeles, California, then broke up in 1975. From these ashes, bassist Tom Petty and two bandmates, guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench, went on to form Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers in 1976 and struck platinum. In 2007, Petty invited drummer Randall Marsh and guitarist Tom Leadon, original members of Mudcrutch, to reunite with Tench and Campbell to reform Mudcrutch. Guitarist Herb Pedersen also joins the band for this tour. Mudcrutch's second full-length album, 2, was released on May 20, 2016.

Mudcrutch, back together for a first-ever U.S. tour, played a two-hour set featuring songs from its two albums and several covers at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom. From the beginning, it was clear that this was not a typical Petty concert. Mudcrutch opened with a traditional bluegrass song, "Shady Grove," and Petty was playing bass instead of guitar. Two songs later, Mudcrutch was covering Dave Dudley's 1963 truck-driving country song, "Six Days on the Road." There was only one Heartbreakers song, a little-known outtake called "Trailer," which was later recorded by Mudcrutch. Following a cover of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," Mudcrutch added another member, Roger McGuinn. (McGuinn, whose former band the Byrds mined a similar sound in the 1960s and 1970s, inducted Petty into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame last night.) Together, they performed three songs from the Byrds' catalogue, "Lover of the Bayou", "Bugler" and Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere." The musicians all jammed as an ensemble, and they jammed well, with each member singing lead on one song, dismantling the myth that this was Petty and his "other" band. Mudcrutch was more than Heartbreakers redux; Mudcrutch was a viable band with a promising potential. There was no need for Heartbreakers hits to fill out the evening's solid country-rocking performance.

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