The world famous 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. played host to one of THE hottest bands on tour in this early part of the summer concert season, yet a majority of the 1200 patrons at the sold out venue didn’t quite grasp what was going on onstage.
The band was Mudcrutch. They made some noise in the early part of the 70’s. They got a record deal, relocated from Gainesville, Florida to Los Angeles, California, released one single and that was pretty much it for them. It was the dream for musicians back then (and still is today). To have a group of friends that you click with musically, and jam together 24 hours a day until you’re the best band out there, hopefully get discovered and signed and ride that fame train for decades to come. In 1975 Mudcrutch dissolved as a band due to record label strife but lead singer Tom Petty, guitarist Mike Campbell, and keyboardist Benmont Tench went on to form Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the rest is rock and roll history.
Now, the crowd at the 9:30 Club knew all that, but few knew the sound of Mudcrutch. They were anticipating the Tom Petty “hits”. “Refugee”, “Runnin’ Down A Dream”, “Don’t Do Me Like That” and dozens of other classic rock staples. In that respect, they were disappointed, but what they got was a huge slice of Americana from a bunch of guys who like to sing and play from the heart. Along with Petty, Campbell, and Tench on stage, original Mudcrutch members, guitarist Tom Leadon, and drummer Randall Marsh graced the stage to make this a true reunion. Petty does take center stage as lead singer and bassist just like he did in 1970 and greets the crowd with a friendly bow and leads the band into “Shady Grove”, an old Appalachian folk song which also happens to be the first song on the first Mudcrutch release in 2008, and that set the tone for the evening.homegrown rock, amazing musicianship, incredible vocal harmonies. Also on stage, was a special guest joining Mudcrutch on this tour. To the right of Tom Leadon was the leader of the Laurel Canyon Ramblers, Mr. Herb Pedersen quietly strumming away on his guitar and adding his vocals in the mix.
The 21-song set consisted mostly of songs from the 2008 debut, and the new release “Mudcrutch 2”, but like most bands that reunite, they like to pay homage to some of their biggest influences. Tom Leadon put down the acoustic for a bit and picked up a red Telecaster and played the opening licks to The Byrds “Lover of the Bayou” which really got the crowd rockin’, with extended solos from both Leadon, and Tench, who was hidden behind a grand piano most of the night. And of course, it felt like the night couldn’t be complete without everyone’s favorite sing-along, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. Lit cell phones swaying back and forth have now replaced lighters in the air. There was much dancing in the crowd
It was hard to tell how much the crowd enjoyed it. It’s plainly obvious that they wanted Tom Petty hits, but after the first few songs they seemed to forget that and really got into the show. In the past decade, there has been a huge bluegrass revival, or “newgrass” if you will that seem to sprout out from the huge jam band movement of the 90’s. Bands like Mumford and Sons, Old Crowe Medicine Show, Trampled By Turtles and The Avett Brothers have been leading the charge, so maybe this is part of why Mudcrutch revived. It was their time to get back to their roots and play again. And while Mudcrutch feels more like The Band, than The Heartbreakers, they are just as relevant in the annals of rock and roll. I’m sure a few people left the show that night and called their old musician buddies and told them they were clearing out the garage.
MUDCRUTCH - June 6, 2016 9:30 Club Washington DC
They were getting the band back together. The music of Mudcrutch did what so few bands can do these days. Inspire. Refreshing!