‘I Won’t Back Down’ Tribute to Tom Petty a Huge Success

LAURA ELLEN BRANDJORD | Photo Courtesy

Jade Presents enlisted the help of six local bands to pay tribute to Tom Petty in the gorgeous Sanctuary Events Center Feb. 2.

To say Tom Petty was one of my favorite artists would be an understatement. When I found my very own vinyl copy of “Damn the Torpedoes,” I went running and joyfully screaming through the record store (much to the horror of my family and understanding of the shop owner). My sister shares a similar affection for the late rock icon. Her Instagram bio cries, “Still mourning the death of my lord and savior Tom Petty.” It’s pretty accurate in my opinion.

Apparently my sister and I are not the only ones. Between the great lineup of bands, reasonable ticket prices and great artist as the tribute’s focus, the show was a sold out success.

The founder of Jade Presents, Jade Nielson, made it clear that the tribute was very personal. In the event information on the Facebook event page, the following quote was included, “I had the privilege of working with Tom Petty in 2003 on the ‘Lost Cities Tour’ when we produced shows in Bismarck, Duluth, Mankato, Cedar Rapids, Sioux Falls and Rapid City. As hard as I tried, I could not work in a Fargo show on that tour and unfortunately, I didn’t get another opportunity. This is our chance to celebrate the songs live with some of FM’s best artists.”

Tom Peckskamp, of local blues act The Moody River Band, served as the emcee for the event. “I remember my mom introducing his songs to me, and then me discovering songs later on and sharing them with her. His music is something that spans generations,” Peckskamp began. He went on to thank everyone for coming and Jade Presents for putting the event together. He then presented the first song of the evening, an acoustic version of “Into the Great Wide Open.” Thus signaling the start of the evening, with each band performing a three song set.

Next up was local rock band Stovepipes, who kicked off their set with “Walls” from the “She’s the One” soundtrack. As the follow up, the band went for a deep cut from the same album with their aching rendition of “Hope You Never.”

Duo Big and Hungry proved Petty’s songs to be compatible with the electric fiddle as the second performance of the evening. Mike Holtz (vocals, guitar) told the audience the impact Petty’s “Full Moon Fever” album and the song “Stranger in the Crowd” had on him as a kid. Holtz also made a plea to those suffering from drug addiction to seek help, after it came to light that opioids were the cause of Petty’s death.

Los Angeles transplants XPLOR had the audience on their feet with their energetic performances of Petty hits such as “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”

The Human Element took the stage, exciting the crowd with the Stevie Nicks-Petty duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and swaggering “Honey Bee.” from “Wildflowers.”

Local ska group The Wicked Bees added island flavor to Petty hits with the addition of a horns section and unique vocals.

Pat Lenertz Band finished off the amazing event, bringing all of the previous bands on stage to lead the audience in “I Won’t Back Down,” an emotional ending to an amazing night.

All those in attendance were connected with the bands in grief and celebration. For a life well lived and music well loved, Tom Petty will live on in the hearts of area fans for years to come. Rest easy Tom, Fargo-Moorhead and the world miss you dearly.

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