It was a dark month, October. When reports of Tom Petty’s sudden death got leaked by the press, the loss felt personal. In the minutes and days and weeks to follow, Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief were in play all over social media: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, finally, acceptance that the rock icon was gone at the age of 66. Who among us in Del Mar in September, at what would ultimately be among the last of the Heartbreaker’s gigs didn’t think the man, and his band, had miles to go? That’s not how it played out.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Casa Dega," 1978
And so now come the Heartbreaker tributes, of which I am generally not a fan. But, acceptance, right? Not to mention, the artists involved in this particular gig are first-call hometown players. There’s ex-pro skater-turned-drummer Mario Rubalcaba. He’s a veteran of Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, and Off! (fronted by Keith Morris of Black Flag and Circle Jerks fame). Next is Chris Torres, who played bass and sang in an intense but short-lived local band named the Grass Heat. Ben Moore’s in there, a record producer and a keyboardist whose gifts sparked up the Styletones and Pocket, among others.
- Saturday, January 6, 2018, 8 p.m.
2501 Kettner Boulevard,
Timothy Joseph from Buckfast Superbee and the Palace Ballroom is on guitars in this Petty tribute, possibly covering Mike Campbell’s role. Dunno. It could go either way, Petty or Campbell. TJ’s got chops enough. Then, there’s Andrew McKeag, likewise on guitars and vox. He was a member of Uncle Joe’s Big Ol’ Driver and the Presidents of the United States of America. McKeag lives here now and subs in Lady Dottie and the Diamonds and Dirty Sweet. And he has his own trio as well, a covers-originals hard-rocking band that books around town. What we’ve got here is a local supergroup. I’d want to hear them whether or not they played Heartbreakers covers.