Despite the weather challenges in the DC metro area, 101 the 80’s experienced a terrific Saturday night of music from Southern Accents: A Tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the State Theater in Falls Church, Va. The Nashville-based band performed Friday night in Johnson City, TN and made the trek through the snow to play their first gig this far East. The band played all of Tom Petty’s biggest hits such as, “Refugee,” “Breakdown,” “Into the Great wide Open,” “ Don’t Back Down,” An American Girl,” and “Learning to Fly.” Before intermission, the band performed the classic “Mary Jane,” and the full-capacity crowd was jumping! The band finished the night with a rousing encore of “Running Down a Dream.” Saturday night was drummer Tom Mac’s second appearance with the band and he didn’t miss a beat all night. Bob Ocker on guitar and Jace Aaron on guitar and harmonica rocked it out along with Paul Jones on bass. Jeff Hollandsworth on keys and mandolin brought Petty’s signature songs to life. Throughout the evening Ronnie Gregg, lead guitarist and vocalist, engaged the audience much in the same vein as Petty himself. Each one of these guys is a phenomenal musician and it shows in every song.
Gregg, who also manages the band, kindly invited 101 the 80’s to sit down with all the band members before the show to share their thoughts about the late musician and what it means to play his music. Given Petty’s sudden death, all the band members expressed a true sense of commitment to keep Petty’s music true to form for all his fans. Despite Petty’s purported health problems during his 2017 tour (it was reported Petty continued to perform despite suffering a hip fracture), the band was in agreement it was a testament to Petty’s endurance and commitment to his fans that he continued touring. In hindsight his fans certainly would have understood discontinuation of the tour if it meant Petty could still be with us. The band talked about Petty’s wide range of music influences from the Bob Dylan, to the Beatles, to Elvis Presley. Petty’s days with Mudcrutch shaped his unique Southern Rock and Roll style. They discussed their love of Petty’s songwriting and the complexity and genius of his lyrics. Guitarist Bob Ocker reflected on the influence that Petty’s long-time guitarist, Mike Campbell, has on his playing style.
One thing you find out early when talking with this band is that not only are they dedicated, accomplished, and talented musicians, but are the most down to earth guys you ever want to meet. True to their name, they embody everything good about their Southern roots. They are aware they are living out a dream playing Tom Petty’s music and are appreciative of the Petty’s fans coming out to support them. After the show, 101 the 80’s talked to few patrons who are big Tom Petty fans and they were universal in their praise of Southern Accents and all agreed they would definitely see them again if they came to the DC area. Let’s hope they do! Southern Accents will keep Tom Petty’s dream alive for years to come.
And we’ll continue to play the great Tom Petty songs and all of the best music from all of the artists that made the 80’s the greatest decade for music. Click in to 101the80s.com and take us with you!