“Most of the things I worry about never happen anyway.”
-Lyric from the Tom Petty song, “Crawling Back To You.”
Tom Petty left this world in 2017, but as long as humans are on this earth, his music will be played and his words will be quoted.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are celebrated by the band Petty Theft, which returns on Saturday, Sept. 3, to the Crystal Bay Casino.
The library of songs from which to choose to play is vast.
“We could go almost two hours and just play hits and there’s so many gems and nuggets on top of that,” said guitarist Monroe Grisman. “It’s hard to get it all in but we have a great rotation. We have about 17 songs that we have to play. You cannot not play ‘American Girl’ and you can’t cut ‘Free Fallin’,’ and you can’t cut ‘Running Down a Dream.’ ”
Grisman’s essential 17 was affirmed by Heartbreakers lead guitarist Mike Campbell, who told Rolling Stone before the band’s 40th anniversary tour that for arena shows there were 17 songs it pretty much had to perform.
Petty Theft has a few deep cuts to rotate into its set list for most shows. It also had shows in which it played the entire albums, “Full Moon Fever” and “Damn The Torpedos.” It plays one Traveling Wilbury’s song, “Handle With Care,” and has yet to cover anything by Petty and Campbell’s original collaboration, Mudcrutch.
Grisman described Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers style.
“They’ve definitely got a folk and roots aspect to them, a rhythm and blues aspect to them, rock and roll and pop,” he said. “And they mix it all together and they always keep it fresh.”
Enhancing his brilliant lyrics, Petty had a penchant for creating beautiful melodies sung on top of simple chord progressions. He often said his musical goal was to be in a band and not necessarily to be a bandleader. Like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Petty Theft is a six-piece ensemble.
“Tom’s songs and the music are in structure relatively simple but, like a lot of things, the devil’s in the details. There’s a lot of ear candy in there,” Grisman said. “As long as I’ve been playing this music and how many times I’ve played these songs, I still discover new things when I hear a song on the radio. The deeper you get inside the music, the more you hear.”
Petty Theft started almost 20 years ago playing myriad covers before going exclusively with Petty songs. The founding members are frontman/guitarist Dan Durkin and bassist Django Bayless. And in case a reader is wondering about Monroe Grisman, yes, he’s the son of David “Dawg” Grisman. Jerry Garcia and Tony Rice were frequent house visitors when Monroe was growing up.
“I was named after Bill Monroe and Django was named after Django Reinhardt,” Grisman said. “I think we were destined to play music and to play music together.”
Petty Theft’s drummer Adam ‘Bagel” Berkowitz and Michael Papenburg plays guitar.
Keeping with a Tom Petty running joke, keyboardist Steven Seydler is referred to as “the new guy,” even though he’s been in the band for four years. Petty called Heartbreakers drummer Steve Ferrone the new guy for more than his 20 years in the group.
Petty notes: Heartbreakers’ drummer Steve Ferrone has sat in three times with Petty Theft. … Mike Campbell’s band The Dirty Knobs” open for The Who on Oct. 26 at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center and Nov. 1 at The Hollywood Bowl. … .Petty Theft’s first show in 2021 after a year layoff due to the pandemic was a seated, socially distanced concert in the Crystal Bay Casino. The music-starved audience gave the band a standing ovation as it took the stage. … Petty Theft will share the Concord Pavilion stage with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tesla on Sept. 22 at the Bone Bash XVIII. … Tom Petty Radio is Channel 31 on SiriusXM. It includes archived “Buried Treasure” episodes with host Tom Petty, who shares his bizarre sense of humor and plays the songs that influenced him, a lot being R&B tunes from the 1960s. “The Last DJ” episodes are hosted by fans who play their five favorite songs. … In honor of “The Last DJ,” Tahoe Onstage picks its favorite five tracks not included on Petty Theft’s essential 17: “Shadow of a Doubt,” “Louisiana Rain,” “Spike,” “Walls” and “Crawling Back To You.”
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
Tickets: $20 in advance, $23 on the day of the show. Add-on option for CBC Backstage access.